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Full text of "Mark Twain. With photographs by Alvin Langdon Coburn"

MARK TWAIN 



BY 



ARCHIBALD HENDERSON 



WITH PHOTOGRAPHS BY 

ALVIN LANGDON COBURN 



NEW YORK 
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY 

1912 



/33/ 

I9IZ 



JAN 221970 i 



" Haply who knows ? somewhere 
In Avalon, Isle of Dreams, 
In vast contentment at last, 
With every grief done away, 
While Chaucer and Shakespeare wait, 
And Moliere hangs on his words, 
And Cervantes not far off 
Listens and smiles apart, 
With that incomparable drawl 
He is jesting with Dagonet now." 

Bliss Carman. 



PREFACE 

There are to-day, all over the world, men and 
women and children who owe a debt of almost 
personal gratitude to Mark Twain for the joy of his 
humour and the charm of his personality. In the 
future they will, I doubt not, seek and welcome 
opportunities to acknowledge that debt. My own 
experience with the works of Mark Twain is in no 
sense exceptional. From the days of early childhood, 
my feeling for Mark Twain, derived first solely from 
acquaintance with his works, was a feeling of warm 
and, as it were, personal affection. With limitless 
interest and curiosity, I used to hear the Uncle 
Remus stories from the lips of one of our old family 
servants, a negro to whom I was devotedly attached. 
These stories were narrated to me in the ne<rro 
dialect with such perfect naturalness and racial 
gusto that I often secretly wondered if the narrator 



x MARK TWAIN 

were not Uncle Remus himself in disguise. I was 
thus cunningly prepared, " coached " shall I say, 
for the maturer charms of Tom Sawyer and Huckle- 
berry Finn. With Uncle Remus and Mark Twain 
as my preceptors, I spent the days of my youth 
excitedly alternating, spell-bound, between the 
inexhaustible attractions of Tom, Huck, Jim, Indian 
Joe, the Duke and the Dauphin, and their compeers 
on the one hand ; and Brer Rabbit, Sis Cow, and a 
thousand other fantastic, but very real creatures 
of the animal kingdom on the other. 

I felt a strange sort of camaraderie, of personal 
attachment, for Mark Twain during all the years 
before I came into personal contact with him. It 
was the dictum of a distinguished English critic, to 
the effect that Huckleberry Finn was a literary 
masterpiece, which first awoke in me, then a mere 
boy, a genuine respect for literary criticism ; for 
here was expressed an opinion which / had long 
secretly cherished, but somehow never dared to 
utter ! 

My personal association with Mr. Clemens, com- 
paratively brief though it was an ocean voyage, 



PREFACE xi 

meetings here and there, a brief stay as a guest in 
his home gave me at last the justification for 
paying the debt which, with the years, had grown 
greater and more insistently obligatory. I felt 
both relief and pleasure when he authorized me 
to pay that debt by writing an interpretation of 
his life and work. 

It is an appreciation originating in the heart of 
one who loved Mark Twain's works for a generation 
before he ever met Samuel L. Clemens. It is an 
interpretation springing from the conviction that 
Mark Twain was a great American who compre- 
hensively incorporated and realized his own country 
and his own age as no American has so completely 
done before him ; a supreme humorist who ever 
wore the yanache of youth, gaiety, and bonhomie ; 
a brilliant wit who never dipped his darts in the 
poison of cynicism, misanthropy, or despair ; con- 
stitutionally a reformer who, heedless of self, boldly 
struck for the right as he saw it ; a philosopher 
and sociologist who intuitively understood the secret 
springs of human motive and impulse, and em- 
pirically demonstrated that intuition in works 



xii MARK TWAIN 

which crossed frontiers, survived translation, and 
went straight to the human, beneath the disguise 
of the racial ; a genius who lived to know and enjoy 
the happy rewards of his own fame ; a great man 
who saw life steadily and saw it whole. 



ARCHIBALD HENDERSON. 



London. 
August 5, 1910. 



Note. The author esteems himself in the highest degree 
fortunate in having the co-operation of Mr. Alvin Langdon 
Coburn. All the illustrations, both autochrome and mono- 
chrome, are the work of Mr. Coburn. 



CONTENTS 



Preface ..... ix 

I. Introductory .... 1 

II. The Man . . . .13 

III. The Humorist . . . .67 

IV. The World-Famed Genius . . 127 
V. Phdlosopher, Moralist, Sociologist . 177 

Appendix : Bibliography . . 213 



xiil 



I. INTRODUCTORY 



u I've a theory that every author, while living, has a pro- 
jection of himself, a sort of eidolon, that goes about in near 
and distant places, and makes friends and enemies for him out 
of folk who never knew him in the flesh. When the author 
dies, this phantom fades away, not caring to continue business 
at the old stand. Then the dead writer lives only in the 
impression made by his literature ; this impression may grow 
sharper or fainter according to the fashions and new conditions 
of the time." 

Letter of Thomas Bailey Aldrich to William 
Dean Howells of date December 23, 1901. 



INTRODUCTORY 

In the past, the attitude of the average American 
toward Mark Twain has been most characteristically 
expressed in a sort of complacent and chuckling 
satisfaction. There was pride in the thought that 
America, the colossal, had produced a superman 
of humour. The national vanity was touched when 
the nations of the world rocked and roared with 
laughter over the comically primitive barbarisms of 
the funny man from the " Wild and Woolly West." 
Mark Twain was lightly accepted as an international 
comedian magically evoking the laughter of a world. 
It would be a mis-statement to affirm that the 
works of Mark Twain were reckoned as falling 
within the charmed circle of " Literature." They 
were not reckoned in connexion with literature 
at all. 

The fingers of one hand number those who real- 
ized in Mark Twain one of the supreme geniuses of 
our age. Even in the event of his death, when 
the flood-gates of critical chatter have been thrown 



4 MARK TWAIN 

emptily wide, there is room for grave doubt whether 
a realization of the unique and incomparable 
position of Mark Twain in the republic of letters 
has fully dawned upon the American consciousness. 
The literatures of England and Europe do not posit 
an aesthetic, embracing work of such primitive 
crudity and apparently unstudied frankness as 
the work of Mark Twain. It is for American 
criticism to posit this more comprehensive aesthetic, 
and to demonstrate that the work of Mark Twain 
is the work of a great artist. It would be absurd 
to maintain that Mark Twain's appeal to posterity 
depends upon the dicta of literary criticism. It 
would be absurd to deny that upon America 
rests the task of demonstrating, to a world willing 
enough to be convinced, that Mark Twain is one 
of the supreme and imperishable glories of American 
literature. 

At any given moment in history, the number of 
living writers to whom can be attributed what a 
Frenchman would call mondial eclat is surprisingly 
few. It was not so many years ago that Rudyard 
Kipling, with vigorous, imperialistic note, won for 
himself the unquestioned title of militant spokesman 
for the Anglo-Saxon race. That fame has suffered 
eclipse in the passage of time. To-day, Bernard 



INTRODUCTORY 5 

Shaw has a fame more world-wide than that of any 
other literary figure in the British Isles. His dramas 
are played from Madrid to Helsingfors, from Buda- 
Pesth to Stockholm, from Vienna to St Petersburg, 
from Berlin to Buenos Ay res. Recently Zola, 
Ibsen, and Tolstoy constituted the literary hierarchy 
of the world according to popular verdict. Since 
Zola and Ibsen have passed from the scene, Tolstoy 
exerts unchallenged the profoundest influence upon 
the thought and consciousness of the world. This 
is an influence streaming less from his works than 
from his life, less from his intellect than from his 
conscience. The literati bemoan the artist of an 
epoch prior to What is Art ? The whole world pays 
tribute to the passionate integrity of Tolstoy's 
moral aspiration.* 

Until yesterday, Mark Twain vied with Tolstoy for 
the place of most widely read and most genuinely 
popular author in the world. In a sense not easily 
misunderstood, Mark Twain has a place in the 
minds and hearts of the great mass of humanity 
throughout the civilized world, which, if measured 
in terms of affection, sympathy, and spontaneous 
enjoyment, is without a parallel. The robust 

* While this book was going through the press, news has come of 
the death of Tolstoy. 



6 MARK TWAIN 

nationalism of Kipling challenges the defiant opposi- 
tion of foreigners ; whilst his reportorial realism 
offends many an inviolable canon of European 
taste. With all his incandescent wit and comic 
irony, Bernard Shaw makes his most vivid impression 
upon the upper strata of society ; his legendary 
character, moreover, is perpetually standing in the 
light of the serious reformer. Tolstoy's works are 
Russia's greatest literary contribution to posterity ; 
and yet his literary fame has suffered through his 
extravagant ideals, the magnificent futility of his 
inconsistency, and the almost maniacal mysticism 
of his unrealizable hopes. 

If Mark Twain makes a more deeply, more 
comprehensively popular appeal, it is doubtless 
because he makes use of the universal solvent 
of humour. That eidolon of which Aldrich speaks 
a compact of good humour, robust sanity, and 
large-minded humanity has diligently " gone about 
in near and distant places," everywhere making 
warm and lifelong friends of folk of all nation- 
alities who have never known Mark Twain in 
the flesh. The French have a way of speaking 
of an author's public as if it were a select and 
limited segment of the conglomerate of readers ; 
and in a country like France, with its innumerable 



INTRODUCTORY 7 

literary cliques and sects, there is some reason for 
the phraseology. In reality, the author appeals to 
many different " publics " or classes of readers 
in proportion to the many-sidedness of the reader's 
human interests and the catholicity of his tastes. 
Mark Twain first opens the eyes of many a boy to 
the power of the great human book, warm with the 
actuality of experience and the life-blood of the heart. 
By humorous inversion, he points the sound moral 
and vivifies the right principle for the youth to 
whom the dawning consciousness of morality is the 
first real psychological discovery of life. With hearty 
laughter at the stupid irritations of self-conscious 
virtue, with ironic scorn for the frigid Puritanism 
of mechanical morality, Mark Twain enraptures 
that innumerable company of the sophisticated 
who have chafed under the omnipresent influence 
of a " good example " and stilled the painless 
pangs of an unruly conscience. With splendid 
satire for the base, with shrill condemnation for 
tyranny and oppression, with the scorpion-lash for 
the equivocal, the fraudulent, and the insincere, 
Mark Twain inspires the growing body of reformers 
in all countries who would remedy the ills of demo- 
cratic government with the knife of publicity. The 
wisdom of human experience and of sagacious 



8 MARK TWAIN 

tolerance informing his books for the young, provokes 
the question whether these books are not more 
apposite to the tastes of experienced age than to the 
fancies of callow youth. The navvy may rejoice in 
Lije on the Mississippi. Youth and age may share 
without jealousy the abounding fun and primitive 
naturalness of Huckleberry Finn. True lovers of 
adventure may revel in the masterly narrative of 
Tom Sawyer. The artist may bestow his critical 
meed of approval upon the beauty of Joan of Arc. 
The moralist may heartily validate the ethical 
lesson of The Man thai Corrupted Hadleyburg. Any- 
one may pay the tribute of irresistible explosions of 
laughter to the horse-play of Roughing It, the colossal 
extravagance of The Innocents Abroad, the irreverence 
and iconoclasm of that Yankee intruder into the 
hallowed confines of Camelot. All may rejoice in 
the spontaneity and refreshment of truth ; spiritu- 
ally co-operate in forthright condemnation of fraud, 
peculation, and sham ; and breathe gladly the fresh 
and bracing air of sincerity, sanity, and wisdom. 
The stevedore on the dock, the motor-man on the 
street car, the newsboy on the street, the river- 
man on the Mississippi all speak with exuberant 
affection in memory of that quaint figure in his 
white suit, his ruddy face shining through wreaths of 



INTRODUCTORY 9 

tobacco smoke and surmounted by a great halo of 
silvery hair. In one day, as Mark Twain was fond 
of relating, an emperor and a portier vied with 
each other in tributes of admiration and esteem 
for this man and his works. It is Mark Twain's 
imperishable glory, not simply that his name is the 
most familiar of that of any author who has lived in 
our own times, but that it is remembered with infinite 
and irrepressible zest. 

" We think of Mark Twain not as other celebrities, 
but as the man whom we knew and loved," said 
Dr. Van Dyke in his Memorial Address. " We re- 
member the realities which made his life worth 
while, the strong and natural manhood that was in 
him, the depth and tenderness of his affections, his 
laughing enmity to all shams and pretences, his long 
and faithful witness to honesty and fair-dealing. 

' Those who know the story of Mark Twain's 
career know how bravely he faced hardships and 
misfortune, how loyally he toiled for years to meet 
a debt of conscience, following the injunction of the 
New Testament, to provide not only things honest, 
but things ' honourable in the sight of all men.' 

' Those who know the story of his friendships 
and his family life know that he was one who loved 
much and faithfully, even unto the end. Those 



10 MARK TWAIN 

who know his work as a whole know that under 
the lambent and irrepressible humour which was 
his gift, there was a foundation of serious thoughts 
and noble affections and desires. 

" Nothing could be more false than to suppose 
that the presence of humour means the absence 
of depth and earnestness. There are elements of 
the unreal, the absurd, the ridiculous in this strange, 
incongruous world which must seem humorous 
even to the highest mind. Of these the Bible 
says : ' He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh ; 
the Almighty shall hold them in derision.' But 
the mark of this higher humour is that it does not 
laugh at the weak, the helpless, the true, the innocent ; 
only at the false, the pretentious, the vain, the 
hypocritical. 

" Mark Twain himself would be the first to smile 
at the claim that his humour was infallible ; but 
we say without doubt that he used his gift, not 
for evil, but for good. The atmosphere of his work 
is clean and wholesome. He made fun without 
hatred. He laughed many of the world's false 
claimants out of court, and entangled many of the 
world's false witnesses in the net of ridicule. In 
his best books and stories, coloured with his own 
experiences, he touched the absurdities of life with 



INTRODUCTORY 11 

penetrating, but not unkindly, mockery, and made 
us feel somehow the infinite pathos of life's realities. 
No one can say that he ever failed to reverence the 
purity, the frank, joyful, genuine nature of the 
little children, of whom Christ said, ' Of such is the 
kingdom of heaven.' 

" Now he is gone, and our thoughts of him are 
tender, grateful, proud. We are glad of his friend- 
ship ; glad that he expressed so richly one of the 
great elements in the temperament of America ; 
glad that he has left such an honourable record as 
a man of letters ; and glad also for his own sake 
that after many and deep sorrows he is at peace 
and, we trust, happy in the fuller light. 

" ' Rest after toil, port after stormy seas, 
Death after life doth greatly please.' " 



II. THE MAN 



hi \y e canno t Jive always on the cold heights of the sublime 
the thin air stifles ' I have forgotten who said it. We 
cannot flush always with the high ardour of the signers of 
the Declaration, nor remain at the level of the address at 
Gettysburg, nor cry continually, ' O Beautiful ! My country ! ' 
Yet, in the long dull interspans between these sacred moments 
we need some one to remind us that we are a nation. For 
in the dead vast and middle of the years insidious foes are 
lurking anaemic refinements, cosmopolitan decadencies, the 
egotistic and usurping pride of great cities, the cold sickening 
of the heart at the reiterated exposures of giant fraud and 
corruption. When our countrymen migrate because we have 
no kings or castles, we are thankful to any one who will tell 
us what we can count on. When they complain that our 
soil lacks the humanity essential to great literature, we are 
grateful even for the firing of a national joke heard round the 
world. And when Mark Twain, robust, big-hearted, gifted 
with the divine power to use words, makes us all laugh together, 
builds true romances with prairie fire and Western clay, and 
shows us that we are at one on all the main points, we feel that 
he has been appointed by Providence to see to it that the 
precious ordinary self of the Republic shall suffer no harm." 
Stuart P. Sherman : " Mark Twain." 
The Nation, May 12, 1910. 



THE MAN 

American literature, indeed I might say American 
life, can exhibit no example of supreme success from 
the humblest beginnings, so signal as the example 
of Mark Twain. Lincoln became President of the 
United States, as did Grant and Johnson. But 
assassination began for Lincoln an apotheosis which 
has gone to deplorable lengths of hero-worship and 
adulation. Grant was one of the great failures in 
American public life ; and Johnson, brilliant but 
unstable, narrowly escaped impeachment. Mark 
Twain enjoys the unique distinction of exhibiting 
a progressive development, a deepening and broaden- 
ing of forces, a ripening of intellectual and spiritual 
powers from the beginning to the end of his career. 
From the standpoint of the man of letters, the 
evolution of Mark Twain from a journeyman printer 
to a great author, from a merry-andrew to a world- 
humorist, from a river-pilot to a trustworthy navi- 
gator on the vast and uncharted seas of human 
experience, may be taken as symbolic of the romance 
of American life. 

15 



16 MARK TWAIN 

With a sort of mock-pride, Clemens referred at 
times to the ancestral glories of his house the judge 
who condemned Charles I., and all those other 
notables, of Dutch and English breeds, who shed 
lustre upon the name of Clemens. Yet he claimed 
that he had not examined into these traditions, 
chiefly because " I was so busy polishing up this 
end of the line and trying to make it showy." His 
mother, a " Lambton with a p," of Kentucky, 
married John Marshall Clemens, of Virginia, a 
man of determination and force, in Lexington, in 
1823 ; but neither was endowed with means, and 
their life was of the simplest. From Jamestown, 
in the mountain solitudes of East Tennessee, 
they removed in 1829, much as Judge Hawkins is 
said to have done in The Gilded Age, settling at 
Florida, Missouri. Here was born, on November 30, 
1835, a few months after their arrival, Samuel 
Langhorne Clemens. Long afterwards he stated that 
he had increased by one per cent, the population 
of this village of one hundred inhabitants, thereby 
doing more than the best man in history had ever 
done for any other town. 

Although weak and sickly, the child did not 
suffer from the hard life, and survived two other 
children, Margaret and Benjamin. At different times 



THE MAN 17 

his life was in danger, the local doctor always coming 
to the rescue. He once asked his mother, after she 
had reached old age, if she hadn't been uneasy about 
him. She admitted she had been uneasy about him 
the whole time. But when he inquired further if 
she was afraid he would not live, she answered after 
a reflective pause as if thinking out the facts 
that she had been afraid he would ! 

His sister Pamela afterwards became the mother 
of Samuel E. Moffett, the writer; and his brother 
Orion, ten years his senior, afterwards was intimately 
associated with him in life and found a place in his 
writings. 

In 1839, John Marshall Clemens tired of the un- 
promising life of Florida and removed to Hannibal, 
Missouri. He was a stern, unbending man, a lawyer 
by profession, a merchant by vocation ; after 
his removal to Hannibal he became a Justice of 
the Peace, an office he filled with all the dignity 
of a local autocrat. His forum was a " dingy " 
office, furnished with " a dry-goods box, three or four 
rude stools, and a puncheon bench." The solemnity 
of his manner in administering the law won for him, 
among his neighbours, the title of Judge. 

One need but recall the scenes in which Tom 
Sawyer was born and bred to realize in its actuality 



18 MARK TWAIN 

the model from which these scenes were drawn. 
" Sam was always a good-hearted boy," his mother 
once remarked, " but he was a very wild and mis- 
chievous one, and, do what we would, we could 
never make him go to school. This used to trouble 
his father and me dreadfully, and we were convinced 
that he would never amount to as much in the world 
as his brothers, because he was not near so steady 
and sober-minded as they were." At school, he 
" excelled only in spelling " ; outside of school he 
was the prototype of his own Huckleberry Finn, 
mischievous and prankish, playing truant when- 
ever the opportunity afforded. " Often his father 
would start him off to school," his mother once 
said, " and in a little while would follow him to 
ascertain his whereabouts. There was a large stump 
on the way to the schoolhouse, and Sam would 
take his position behind that, and as his father 
went past would gradually circle around it in such 
a way as to keep out of sight. Finally, his father 
and the teacher both said it was of no use to try to 
teach Sam anything, because he was determined 
not to learn. But I never gave up. He was always 
a great boy for history, and could never get tired 
of that kind of reading ; but he hadn't any use for 
schoolhouses and text books." 



THE MAN 19 

Mr. Howells has aptly described Hannibal as a 
"loafing, out-at-elbows, down-at-the-heels, slave- 
holding Mississippi river town." Young Clemens 
accepted the institution of slavery as a matter of 
course, for his father was a slave-owner; and his 
mother's wedding dowry consisted in part of two 
or three slaves. Judge Clemens was a very austere 
man ; like so many other slave-holders, he silently 
abhorred slavery. To his children, especially to 
Sam, as well as to his slaves, he was, however, a 
stern taskmaster. Mark Twain has described the 
terms on which he and his father lived as a sort of 
armed neutrality. If at times this neutrality was 
broken and suffering ensued, the breaking and the 
suffering were always divided up with strict im- 
partiality between them his father doing the break- 
ing and he the suffering ! Sam claimed to be a 
very backward, cautious, unadventurous boy. But 
this modest estimate is subject to modification 
when we learn that once he jumped off a two- 
story stable ; another time he gave an elephant 
a plug of tobacco, and retired without waiting for 
an answer ; and still another time he pretended 
to be talking in his sleep, and got off a portion 
of every original conundrum in hearing of his 
iather. He begs the curious not to pry into the 



20 MARK TWAIN 

result as it was of no consequence to any one but 
himself ! 

The cave, so graphically described in Tom Sawyer, 
was one of Sam's favourite haunts ; and his first 
sweetheart was Laura Hawkins, the Becky Thatcher 
of Tom's admiration. " Sam was always up to some 
mischief," this lady once remarked in later life, 
when in reminiscential mood. " We attended 
Sunday-school together, and they had a system of 
rewards for saying verses after committing them to 
memory. A blue ticket was given for ten verses, 
a red ticket for ten blue, a yellow for ten red, and a 
Bible for ten yellow tickets. If you will count up, 
you will see it makes a Bible for ten thousand verses. 
Sam came up one day with his ten yellow tickets, 
and everybody knew he had not said a verse, but 
had just got them by trading with the boys. But 
he received his Bible with all the serious air of a 
diligent student ! " 

Mark Twain, save when in humorous vein, has 
never pretended that his success was due to any 
marvellous qualities of mind, any indefatigable 
industry, any innate energy and perseverance. 
I have good reason to recall his favourite theory, 
which he was fond of expounding, to the effect that 
circumstance is man's master. He likened circum- 



THE MAN 21 

stance to the attraction of gravity ; and declared that 
while it is man's privilege to argue with circum- 
stance, as it is the honourable privilege of the falling 
body to argue with the attraction of gravity, it does 
no good : man has to obey. Circumstance has as 
its working partner man's temperament, his natural 
disposition. Temperament is not the creation of 
man, but an innate quality ; over it he has no 
authority ; for its acts he cannot be held responsible. 
It cannot be permanently changed or even modified. 
No power can keep it modified. For it is inherent 
and enduring, as unchanging as the lines upon the 
thumb or the conformation of the skull. Throughout 
his life, circumstance seemed like a watchful spirit, 
switching his temperament into those channels of 
experience and development leading unerringly to 
the career of the author. 

The death of Judge Clemens was the first link in 
the long chain of circumstance for his son was 
at once taken from school and apprenticed to the 
editor and proprietor of the Hannibal Courier, 
He was allowed the usual emolument of the office 
of apprentice, " board and clothes, but no money " ; 
and even at that, though the board was paid, the 
clothes rarely materialized. Several weeks later his 
brother Orion returned to Hannibal, and in 1850 



22 MARK TWAIN 

brought out a little paper called the Hannibal 
Journal. He took Sam out of the Courier office 
and engaged him for the Journal at $3.50 a week 
though he was never able to pay a cent of the wages. 
One of Mark's fellow-townsmen once confessed: 
" Yes, I knew him when he was a boy. He was a 
printer's devil I think that's what they called 
him and they didn't miss it." At a banquet some 
years ago, Mark Twain aptly described at length 
his experiences as a printer's apprentice. There 
were a thousand and one menial services he was called 
upon to perform. If the subscribers paid at all, it 
was only sometimes and then the town subscribers 
paid in groceries, the country subscribers in cabbages 
and cordwood. If they paid, they were puffed in 
the paper ; and if the editor forgot to insert the 
puff, the subscriber stopped the paper ! Every 
subscriber regarded himself as assistant editor, 
ex officio ; gave orders as to how the paper was to 
be edited, supplied it with opinions, and directed its 
policy. Of course, every time the editor failed to 
follow his suggestions, he revenged himself by stopping 
the paper ! 

After some financial stress, the paper was moved 
into the Clemens home, a " two - story brick " ; 
and here for several years it managed to worry along, 



THE MAN 23 

spasmodically hovering between life and death. 
Life was easy with the editors of that paper ; for 
if they pied a form, they suspended until the next 
week. They always suspended anyhow, every now 
and then, when the fishing was good ; and always 
fell back upon the illness of the editor as a convenient 
excuse. Mark admitted that this was a paltry 
excuse, for the all-sufficing reason that a paper 
of that sort was just as well off with a sick editor 
as a well one, and better off with a dead one than with 
either of them. At the age of fifteen he considered 
himself a skilled journeyman printer ; and his faculty 
for comedic portrayal had already betrayed itself in 
occasional clumsy efforts. In My First Literary 
Venture, he narrates his experiences, amongst others 
how greatly he increased the circulation of the 
paper, and incensed the " inveterate woman-killer," 
whose poetry for that week's paper read, " To Mary 

in H 1 " (Hannibal). Mark added a " snappy 

foot-note " at the bottom, in which he agreed to let 
the thing pass, for just that once ; but distinctly 
warning Mr. J. Gordon Runnels that the paper had a 
character to sustain, and that in future, when Mr. 
Runnels wanted to commune with his friends in 
h 1, he must select some other medium for that 
communication ! Many were the humorous skits, 



24 MARK TWAIN 

crudely illustrated with cuts made from wooden 
blocks hacked out with his jack-knife, which the 
mischievous young " devil " inserted in his brother's 
paper. Here we may discern the first spontaneous 
outcroppings of the genuine humorist. "It was on 
this paper, the Hannibal Journal" says his biog- 
rapher, Mr. Albert B. Paine, " that young Sam 
Clemens began his writings burlesques, as a rule, 
of local characters and conditions usually published 
in his brother's absence, generally resulting in trouble 
on his return. Yet they made the paper sell, and if 
Orion had but realized his possession he might have 
turned his brother's talent into capital even then." 

One evening in 1853, the boy, consumed with 
wanderlust, asked his mother for five dollars to 
start on his travels. He failed to receive the money, 
but he defiantly announced that he would go " any- 
how." He had managed to save a tiny sum, and 
that night he disappeared and fled to St Louis. 
There he worked in the composing-room of the 
Evening News for a time, and then started out " to 
see the world " New York, where a little World's 
Fair was in progress. He was somewhat better off 
than was Benjamin Franklin when he entered 
Philadelphia for he had two or three dollars in 
pocket-change, and a ten-dollar bank-bill concealed 



THE MAN 25 

in the lining of his coat. For a time he sweltered 
in a villainous mechanics' boarding-house in Duane 
Street, and worked at starvation wages in the 
printing-office of Gray & Green. Being recognized 
one day by a man from Hannibal, he fled to Phila- 
delphia where he worked for some months as a 
" sub " on the Inquirer and the Public Ledger. Next 
came a flying trip to Washington " to see the sights 
there," and then back he went to the Mississippi 
Valley. This journey to the "vague and fabled 
East " really opened his eyes to the great possi- 
bilities that the world has in store for the traveller. 
Meantime, Orion had gone to Muscatine, Ohio, 
and acquired a small interest there ; and, after his 
marriage, he and his wife went to Keokuk and started 
a little job printing-office. Here Sam worked with 
his brother until the winter of 1856-7, when circum- 
stance once again played the part of good fairy. 
As he was walking along the street one snowy 
evening, his attention was attracted by a piece of 
paper which the wind had blown against the wall. 
It proved to be a fifty-dollar bill ; and after advertis- 
ing for the owner for four days, he stealthily moved 
to Cincinnati in order " to take that money out of 
danger." Now comes the second crucial event in 
his life ! 



26 MARK TWAIN 

For long the ambition for river life had remained 
with him and now there seemed some possibility 
of realizing these ambitions. He first wanted to be 
a cabin boy ; then his ideal was to be a deck hand, 
because of his splendid conspicuousness as he stood 
on the end of the stage plank with a coil of rope in 
his hand. But these were only day-dreams he 
didn't admit, even to himself, that they were any- 
thing more than heavenly impossibilities. But as he 
worked during the winter in the printing-office of 
Wrightson & Company of Cincinnati, he whiled 
away his leisure hours reading Lieutenant Herndon's 
account of his explorations of the Amazon, and 
became greatly interested in his description of the 
cocoa industry. Now he set to work to map out 
a new and thrilling career. The expedition sent out 
by the government to explore the Amazon had 
encountered difficulties and left unfinished the ex- 
ploration of the country about the head-waters, 
thousands of miles from the mouth of the river. 
It mattered not to him that New Orleans was fifteen 
hundred miles away from Cincinnati, and that he 
had only thirty dollars left. His mind was made up : 
he would go on and complete the work of exploration. 
So in April, 1857, he set sail for New Orleans on an 
ancient tub, called the Paul Jones. For the paltry 



THE MAN 27 

sum of sixteen dollars, he was enabled to revel in 
the unimagined glories of the main saloon. At 
last he was under way realizing his boyhood 
dream, unable to contain himself for joy. At last 
he saw himself as that hero of his boyish fancy 
a traveller. 

When he reached New Orleans, after the pro- 
longed ecstasy of two weeks on a tiny Mississippi 
steamer, he discovered that no ship was leaving 
for Para, that there never had been one leaving for 
Para, and that there probably would not be one 
leaving for Para that century. A policeman made 
him move on, threatening to run him in if he ever 
caught him reflecting in the public street again. 
Just as his money failed him, his old friend circum- 
stance arrived, with another turning-point in his 
life a new link. On his way down the river he had 
met Horace Bixby; he turned to him in this hour 
of need. It has been charged against Mark Twain 
that he was deplorably lazy apocryphal anecdotes 
are still narrated with much gusto to prove it. Think 
of a lazy boy undertaking the stupendous task of 
learning to know the intricate and treacherous secrets 
of the great river, to know every foot of the route 
in the dark as well as he knew his own face in the 
glass ! And yet he confesses that he was unaware 



28 MARK TWAIN 

of the immensity of the undertaking upon which 
he had embarked. 

"In 1852," says Bixby, "I was chief pilot on 
the Paul Jones, a boat that made occasional trips 
from Pittsburg to New Orleans. One day a tall, 
angular, hoosier-like young fellow, whose limbs 
appeared to be fastened with leather hinges, entered 
the pilot-house, and in a peculiar, drawling voice, 
said 

" ' Good mawnin, sir. Don't you want to take 
er piert young fellow and teach 'im how to be er 
pilot?' * 

" 4 No sir ; there is more bother about it than 
it's worth.' 

" 4 1 wish you would, mister. I'm er printer by 
trade, but it don't 'pear to 'gree with me, and I'm 
on my way to Central America for my health. I 
believe I'll make a tolerable good pilot, 'cause I 
like the river.' 

" ' What makes you pull your words that way ? " 

" ' I don't know, mister ; vou'll have to ask mv 
Ma. She pulls hern too. Ain't there some way 
that we can fix it, so that you'll teach me how to be 
er pilot ? ' 

" ' The only way is for money.' 

44 4 How much are you going to charge ? 



THE MAN 29 

" Well, I'll teach you the river for $500.' 

" ' Gee whillikens ! he ! he ! I ain't got $500, 
but I've got five lots in Keokuk, Iowa, and 2000 
acres of land in Tennessee that is worth two bits 
an acre any time. You can have that if you 
want it.' 

" I told him I did not care for his land, and after 
a while he agreed to pay $100 in cash (borrowed 
from his brother-in-law, William A. Moffett, of 
Virginia), $150 in twelve months, and the balance 
when he became a pilot. He was with me for a 
long time; but sometimes took occasional trips 
with other pilots." And he significantly adds : 
" He was always drawling out dry jokes, but then 
we did not pay any attention to him." 

It cannot be thought accidental that Sam Clemens 
became a pilot. Bixby became his mentor, the 
pilot-house his recitation-room, the steamboat his 
university, the great river the field of knowledge. 
In that stupendous course in nature's own college, 
he " learned the river " as schoolboy seldom 
masters his Greek or his mathematics. With the 
naive assurance of youth, he gaily enters upon the 
task of " learning " some twelve or thirteen hundred 
miles of the great Mississippi. Long afterwards, 
he confessed that had he really known what he was 



30 MARK TWAIN 

about to require of his faculties, he would never 
have had the courage to begin. 

His comic sketches, published in the Hannibal 
Weekly Courier in his brother's absence, furnish 
the first link, his apprenticeship to Bixby the 
second link in the chain of circumstance. For two 
years and a half he sailed the river as a master pilot ; 
his trustworthiness secured for him the command 
of some of the best boats on the river, and he was 
so skilful that he never met disaster on any of his 
trips. He narrowly escaped it in 1861, for when 
Louisiana seceded, his boat was drafted into the 
Confederate service. As he reached St. Louis, having 
taken passage for home, a shell came whizzing by 
and carried off part of the pilot-house. It was the 
end of an era : the Civil War had begun. The 
occupation of the pilot was gone ; but the river had 
given up to him all of its secrets. He was to show 
them to a world, in Life on the Mississippi and 
Huckleberry Finn. 

The story of the derivation of the famous nom 
de guerre has often been narrated and as often 
erroneously. As the steamboat approaches a 
sandbank, snag, or other obstruction, the man at 
the bow heaves the lead and sings out, " By the 
mark, three," " Mark twain," etc. meaning three 



THE MAN 31 

fathoms deep, two fathoms, and so on. The thought 
of adopting Mark Twain as a nom de guerre was not 
original with Clemens ; but the world owes him a 
debt of gratitude for making forever famous a 
name that, but for him, would have been forever 
lost. " There was a man, Captain Isaiah Sellers, 
who furnished river news for the New Orleans 
Picayune, still one of the best papers in the South," 
Mr. Clemens once confessed to Professor Wm. L. 
Phelps. " He used to sign his articles Mark Twain. 
He died in 1863. I liked the name, and stole it. 
I think I have done him no wrong, for I seem to 
have made this name somewhat generally known." 

The inglorious escapade of his military career, 
at which he himself has poked unspeakable fun, and 
for which not even his most enthusiastic biog- 
raphers have any excuse, was soon ended. Had 
his heart really been enlisted on the side of the 
South, he would doubtless have stayed at his post. 
In reality, he was at that time lacking in conviction ; 
and in after life he became a thorough Unionist and 
Abolitionist. In the summer of 1861, Governor 
Jackson of Missouri called for fifty thousand volun- 
teers to drive out the Union forces. While visiting 
in the small town where his boyhood had been spent, 
Hannibal, Marion County, young Clemens and some 



32 MARK TWAIN 

of his friends met together in a secret place one night, 
and formed themselves into a military company. 
The spirited but untrained Tom Lyman was made 
captain ; and in lieu of a first lieutenant strange 
omission ! young Clemens was made second lieu- 
tenant. These fifteen hardy souls proudly dubbed 
themselves the Marion Rangers. No one thought 
of finding fault with such a name it sounded 
too well. All were full of notions as high-flown as 
the name of their company. One of their number, 
named Dunlap, was ashamed of his name, because 
it had a plebeian sound to his ear. So he solved the 
difficulty and gratified his aristocratic ambitions by 
writing it d'Unlap. This may serve as a sample 
of the stuff of which the company was made. 
Dunlap was by no means useless ; for he invented 
hifalutin names for the camps, and generally suc- 
ceeded in proposing a name that was, as his com- 
panions agreed, " no slouch." 

There was no real organization, nobody obeyed 
orders, there was never a battle. They retreated, 
according to the tale of the humorist, at every sign 
of the enemy. In truth, this little band had plenty 
of stomach for fighting, despite its loose organization ; 
and quite a number fought all through the war. 
Mark Twain is doubtless correct in the main, in his 



THE MAN 33 

assertion that he has not given an unfair picture 
of the conditions prevailing in many of the militia 
camps in the first months of the war between the 
states. The men were raw and unseasoned, and 
even the leaders were lacking in the rudiments of 
military training and discipline. The situation was 
strange and unprecedented, the terrors were none 
the less real that they were imaginary. As Mark 
says, it took an actual collision with the enemy on 
the field of battle to change them from rabbits into 
soldiers. Young Clemens, according to his nephew's 
account, was first detailed to special duty on the 
river because of his knowledge acquired as a pilot ; 
it was not long before he was captured and paroled. 
Again he was captured, this time sent to St. Louis, and 
imprisoned there in a tobacco warehouse. Fearing 
recognition and tragic consequences, perhaps court- 
martial and death, should he, during the formalities 
of exchange, be recognized by the command in Grant's 
army which first captured him, he made his escape, 
abandoned the cause which he afterwards spoke of 
as " the rebellion," and went west as secretary to 
his brother Orion, lately appointed Territorial 
Secretary of Nevada by the President. 

A very credible and interesting biography of 
Mark Twain might be compiled from his own works ; 
c 



34 MARK TWAIN 

and Roughing It is full of autobiography of a coloured 
sort, though in the main correct. His joy in the 
prospect of that trip, the exciting details of the 
long journey, are all narrated with gusto and fine 
effect. In the " unique sinecure " of the office of 
private secretary, he found he had nothing to do 
and no salary ; so after a short time the fear of 
being recognized by Union soldiers and shot for 
breaking his parole still haunting him he, and a 
companion, went off together on a fishing jaunt to 
Lake Tahoe. Everywhere he saw fortunes made in 
a moment. He fell a prey to the prevailing excite- 
ment and went mad like all the rest. Little wonder 
over the wild talk, when cartloads of solid silver 
bricks as large as pigs of lead were passing by every 
day before their very eyes. The wild talk grew more 
frenzied from day to day. And young Clemens 
yielded to no one in enthusiasm and excitement. 
For vividness or picturesqueness of expression none 
could vie with him. With three companions, he 
began " prospecting," with the most indifferent 
success ; and soon tiring of their situation, they 
moved on down to Esmeralda (now Aurora), on the 
other side of Carson City. Here new life seemed to 
inspire the party. What mattered it if they were 
in debt to the butcher for did they not own thirty 



THE MAN 35 

thousand feet apiece in the " richest mines on earth " ! 
Who cared if their credit was not good with the 
grocer, so long as they revelled in mountains of 
fictitious wealth and raved in the frenzied cant of 
the hour over their immediate prospect of fabulous 
riches ! But at last the practical necessities of living 
put a sudden damper on their enthusiasm. Clemens 
was forced at last to abandon mining, and go to 
work as a common labourer in a quartz mill, at ten 
dollars a week and board after flour had soared to a 
dollar a pound and the rate on borrowed money 
had gone to eight per cent, a month. This work was 
very exhausting, and after a week Clemens asked 
his employer for an advance of wages. The em- 
ployer replied that he was paying Clemens ten dollars 
a week, and thought that all he was worth. How 
much did he want ? When Clemens replied that four 
hundred thousand dollars a month, and board, was 
all he could reasonably ask, considering the hard 
times, he was ordered off the premises ! In after 
days, Mark only regretted that, in view of the arduous 
labours he had performed in that mill, he had not 
asked seven hundred thousand for his services ! 

After a time, Mark and his friend Higbie estab- 
lished their claim to a mine, became mad with 
excitement, and indulged in the wildest dreams 



36 MARK TWAIN 

for the future. Under the laws of the district, 
work of a certain character must be done upon the 
claim within ten days after location in order to 
establish the right of possession. Mark was called 
away to the bedside of a sick friend, Higbie failed 
to receive Mark's note, and the work was never 
done; each thinking it was being properly attended 
to by the other. On their return, they discovered 
that their claim was " re-located," and that 
millions had slipped from their grasp ! The very 
stars in their courses seemed to fight to force young 
Clemens into literature. Had Samuel Clemens 
become a millionaire at this time, it is virtually 
certain that there would have been no Mark Twain. 
After one day more of heartless prospecting, 
Clemens " dropped in " at the wayside post-office. It 
was the hour of fate ! A letter awaited him there. 
We cannot call it accident it was the result of 
forces and events which had long been converging 
toward this end. Samuel Clemens began his career 
as an itinerant, tramping " jour " printer. He wrote 
for the papers on which he served as printer ; and 
he actually read the matter he set up in type. By 
observation on his travels, by study of the writing 
of others, Clemens acquired information, knowledge 
of life, and ingenuity of expression. He hadn't 



THE MAN 87 

served his ten-years' apprenticeship as a printer for 
nothing. In the process of setting up tons of good 
and bad literature, he had learned half uncon- 
sciously to appraise and to discriminate. In the 
same half -unconscious way, he was actually gaining 
some inkling of the niceties of style. After he began 
" learning the river," Clemens once wrote a funny 
sketch about Captain SeUers which made a genuine 
" hit " with the officers on the boat. The sketch fell 
into the hands of the " river-editor " of the St. Louis 
Republican, found a place in that journal, and was 
widely copied throughout the West. On the strength 
of it, Clemens became a sort of river reporter, and 
from time to time published memoranda and comic 
squibs in the Republican. That passion which a 
French critic has characterized as distinctively 
American, the passion for " seeing yourself in print," 
still burned in Clemens, even during all the hardships 
of prospecting and milling. At intervals he sent 
from the mining regions of " Washoe," as all that 
part of Nevada was then called, humorous letters 
signed " Josh " to the Daily Territorial Enterprise 
of Virginia City, at that time one of the most 
progressive and wide - awake newspapers in the 
West. 
The fateful letter which I have mentioned, con- 



38 MARK TWAIN 

tained an offer to Clemens from the proprietor of 
the Enterprise, of the position of city editor, at a 
salary of twenty-five dollars a week. To Clemens 
at this time, this offer came as a perfect godsend. 
Twenty-five dollars a week was nothing short of 
wealth, luxury. His enthusiasm oozed away when 
he reflected over his ignorance and incompetence ; 
and he gloomily recalled his repeated failures. But 
necessity faced him ; and opportunity knocks but 
once at every door. His doubts were speedily 
resolved ; and he afterwards confessed that, had 
he been offered at that time a salary to translate 
the Talmud from the original Hebrew, he would 
unhesitatingly have accepted, despite some natural 
misgivings, and have tried to throw as much variety 
into it as he could for the money. It was to fill a 
vacancy, caused by the absence of Dan De Quille, the 
regular reporter, on a visit to " the States," that 
Clemens was offered this position; but he retained 
it after De Quille returned. " Mark and I had our 
hands full," relates De Quille, " and no grass grew 
under our feet. There was a constant rush of startling 
events ; they came tumbling over one another as 
though playing at leap-frog. While a stage robbery 
was being written up, a shooting affray started ; and 
perhaps before the pistol shots had ceased to echo 



THE MAN 39 

among the surrounding hills, the firebells were bang- 
ing out an alarm." A record of the variegated duties 
of these two, found in an old copy of the Territorial 
Enterprise of 1863, bears the unmistakable hall- 
marks of Mark Twain. " Our duty is to keep the 
universe thoroughly posted concerning murders and 
street fights, and balls and theatres, and pack-trains, 
and churches, and lectures, and school-houses, and 
city military affairs, and highway robberies, and 
Bible societies, and hay wagons, and the thousand 
other things which it is within the province of local 
reporters to keep track of and magnify into undue 
importance for the instruction of the readers of a 
great daily newspaper. Beyond this revelation every- 
thing connected with these two experiments of Pro- 
vidence must for ever remain an impenetrable 
mystery." An admirable picture of Mark Twain 
on his native heath, in the latter part of 1863, is 
given by Edward Peron Hingston, author of The 
Genial Showman, in the introduction to the English 
edition of The Innocents Abroad. 

The fame of the Western humorist had already 
reached the ears of Hingston ; and as soon as he 
reached Virginia City, he went to the office of the 
Territorial Enterprise and asked to be presented 
to Mark Twain. 



40 MARK TWAIN 

When he heard his name called by some one, 
Clemens called out : 

" Pass the gentleman into my den. The noble 
animal is here." 

The noble animal proved to be "a young man, 
strongly built, ruddy in complexion, his hair of a 
sunny hue, his eyes light and twinkling, in manner 
hearty, and nothing of the student about him 
one who looked as if he could take his own part in 
a quarrel, strike a smart blow as readily as he could 
say a telling thing, bluffly jolly, brusquely cordial, 
off-handedly good-natured." The picture is de- 
tailed and vivid : 

" Let it be borne in mind that from the windows of the 
newspaper office the American desert was visible ; that within 
a radius of ten miles Indians were encamping amongst the 
sage-brush ; that the whole city was populated with miners, 
adventurers, Jew traders, gamblers, and all the rough-and- 
tumble class which a mining town in a new territory collects 
together, and it will be readily understood that a reporter for 
a daily paper in such a place must neither go about his duties 
wearing light kid gloves, nor be fastidious about having gilt 
edges to his note-books. In Mark Twain I found the very 
man I had expected to see a flower of the wilderness, tinged 
with the colour of the soil, the man of thought and the man of 
action rolled into one, humorist and hard-worker, Momus in a 
felt hat and jack-boots. In the reporter of the Territorial 
Enterprise I became introduced to a Californian celebrity, rich 
in eccentricities of thought, lively in fancy, quaint in remark, 
whose residence upon the fringe of civilization had allowed his 



THE MAN 41 

humour to develop without restraint, and his speech to be 
rarely idiomatic." 

Under the influence of the example of the pro- 
prietors of the Enterprise, strict stylistic disciplina- 
rians of the Dana school of journalism, Clemens 
learned the advantages of the crisp, direct style 
which characterizes his writing. As a reporter, 
he was really industrious in matters that met his 
fancy ; but " cast-iron items " for he hated facts 
and figures requiring absolute accuracy got from 
him only " a lick and a promise." He was much 
interested in Tom Fitch's effort to establish a literary 
journal, The Weekly Occidental. Daggett's opening 
chapters of a wonderful story, of which Fitch, Mrs 
Fitch, J. T. Goodman, Dan De Quille, and Clemens 
were to write successive instalments, gave that 
paper the coup de grace in its very first issue. Of 
this wonderful novel, at the close of each instalment 
of which the " hero was left in a position of such 
peril that it seemed impossible he could be rescued, 
except through means and wisdom more than 
human " ; of the Bohemian days of the " Visigoths," 
Clemens, De Quille, Frank May, Louis Aldrich, 
and their confreres ; of the practical jokes played on 
each other, particularly the incident of the imitation 
meerschaum (" mere sham ") pipe, solemnly presented 



42 MARK TWAIN 

to Clemens by Steve Gillis, C. A. V. Putnam, D. E. 
M c Carthy, De Quille and others all these belong 
to the fascinating domain of the biographer. When 
Clemens was sent down to Carson City to report 
the meetings of the first Nevada Legislature* he 
began for the first time to sign his letters " Mark 
Twain." In his Autobiography he has explained 
that his function as a legislative correspondent was 
to dispense compliment and censure with impartial 
justice. As his disquisitions covered about half 
a page each morning in the Enterprise, it is easy to 
understand that he was an " influence." Questioned 
by Carlyle Smith in regard to his choice of 
" Mark Twain," Mr. Clemens replied : " I chose 
my pseudonym because to nine hundred and ninety- 
nine persons out of a thousand it had no meaning, 
and also because it was short. I was a reporter in 
the Legislature at the time, and I wished to save the 
Legislature time. It was much shorter to say in 
their debates for I was certain to be the occasion 
of some questions of privilege ' Mark Twain ' than 
1 the unprincipled and lying Parliamentary Re- 
porter of the Territorial Enterprise. 1 " 

Already his name was known the whole length 
of the Pacific Coast ; the Enterprise published 
many things from his pen which gave him local, 



THE MAN 43 

and afterwards national, fame ; such sketches as 
The Undertaker's Chat, The Petrified Man and The 
Marvellous 4 Bloody Massacre ' had attracted favour- 
able and wide notice east of the Rocky Mountains. 
But his career in Carson City came to a sudden close 
when he challenged the editor of the Virginia Union 
to a duel, the bloodless conclusion of which is 
narrated in the Autobiography. But even a challenge 
to a duel was against the new law of Nevada ; and 
obeying the warning of Governor North, the duellists 
crossed the border without ceremony, and stood not 
upon the order of their going. 

While Mark Twain was still with the Enterprise, 
he was in the habit of reserving all his " sketches " 
for the San Francisco newspapers, the Golden Era 
and the Morning Call. He now turns his steps to 
that storied city of " Frisco," and was not long in ex- 
tending his fame on that coast. He was incorrigibly 
lazy, as George Barnes, the editor of the Call, soon 
discovered ; and Kipling was told when he was in 
San Francisco that Mark was in the habit of coiling 
himself into a heap and meditating until the last 
minute, when he would produce copy having no 
relationship to the subject of his assignment 
" which made the editor swear horribly, and the 
readers of The Call ask for more." His love for 



44 MARK TWAIN 

practical joking during the California days brought 
him unpopularity ; and one reads in a San Francisco 
paper of the early days : " There have been moments 
in the lives of various kind-hearted and respectable 
citizens of California and Nevada, when, if Mark 
Twain were before them as members of a vigilance 
committee for any mild crime, such as mule-stealing 
or arson, it is to be feared his shrift would have been 
short. What a dramatic picture the idea conjures 
up, to be sure ! Mark, before these honest men, 
infuriated by his practical jokes, trying to show 
them what an innocent creature he was when it came 
to mules, or how the only policy of fire insurance 
he held had lapsed, how void of guile he was in any 
direction, and all with that inimitable drawl, that 
perplexed countenance and peculiar scraping of 
the left foot, like a boy speaking his first piece at 
school." If he just escaped disaster, he likewise just 
escaped millions ; on one occasion, for the space 
of a few moments, he owned the famous Comstock 
Lode, which was, though he never suspected it, 
worth millions. His trunkful of securities, which 
were eminently saleable at one time, proved to be 
of fictitious value when " the bottom dropped out " 
of the Nevada boom; and that silver mine, which 
he was commissioned to sell in New York, was 



THE MAN 45 

finally sold for three million dollars ! It was, as 
Mark says, the blind lead over again. Mark Twain 
had the true Midas touch ; but the mine of riches he 
was destined to discover was a mine, not of gold or 
silver, but the mine of intellect and rich human 
experience. 

To The Golden Era, Mark Twain, like Prentice 
Mulford and Joaquin Miller, contributed freely; 
and after a time he became associated with Bret 
Harte on The Californian, Harte as editor at twenty 
dollars a week, and Mark receiving twelve dollars 
for an article. Here forgathered that group of 
brilliant writers of the Pacific Slope, numbering 
Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Charles Warren Stoddard, 
Charles Henry Webb, and Prentice Mulford among 
its celebrities ; two of that remarkable coterie were 
soon destined to achieve world-wide fame. " These 
ingenuous young men, with the fatuity of gifted 
people," says Mr. Howells, "had established a literary 
newspaper in San Francisco, and they brilliantly 
co-operated in its early extinction." Of his first 
meeting with Mark Twain, Bret Harte has left a 
memorable picture : 

"His head was striking. He had the curly hair, the 
aquiline nose, and even the aquiline eye an eye so eagle- 
like that a second lid would not have surprised me of an 



46 MARK TWAIN 

unusual and dominant nature. His eyebrows were very thick 
and bushy. His dress was careless, and his general manner 
was one of supreme indifference to surroundings and circum- 
stances. Barnes introduced him as Mr. Sam Clemens, and 
remarked that he had shown a very unusual talent in a number 
of newspaper articles contributed over the signature of ( Mark 
Twain.' " 

Mark tired of the life of literary drudgery in San 
Francisco on one occasion he was reduced to a 
solitary ten- cent piece ; and General John M c Comb 
wooed him back to journalism just as he was on the 
point of returning to his old work on the Mississippi 
River, this time as a Government pilot. During the 
earlier years in San Francisco, he was in the habit 
of writing weekly letters to the Territorial Enterprise 
personals, market-chat, and the like. But when 
he criticized the police department of San Francisco 
in the most scathing terms, the officials " found 
means for bringing charges that made the author's 
presence there difficult and comfortless." So he 
welcomed the opportunity to join Steve Gillis in 
a pilgrimage to the mountain home of Jim Gillis, 
his brother a " sort of Bohemian infirmary." 
Mark Twain revelled in the delightful company of 
the original of Bret Harte's M Truthful James," 
and he enjoyed the mining methods of Jackass 
Hill, like the true Bohemian that he was. Soon after 



THE MAN 47 

his arrival, Mark and Jim Gillis started out in search 
of golden pockets. As De Quille says : 

" They soon found and spent some days in working up the 
undisturbed trail of an undiscovered deposit. They were on 
the ' golden bee-line ' and stuck to it faithfully, though it was 
necessary to carry each sample of dirt a considerable distance 
to a small stream in the bed of a canon in order to wash it 
However, Mark hungered and thirsted to find a big rich pocket, 
and he pitched in after the manner of Joe Bowers of old 
just like a thousand of brick. 

" Each step made sure by the finding of golden grains, they 
at last came upon the pocket whence these grains had trailed 
out down the slope of the mountain. It was a cold, dreary 
drizzling day when the ' home deposit ' was found. The first 
sample of dirt carried to the stream and washed out yielded 
only a few cents. Although the right vein had been discovered, 
they had as yet found only the tail end of the pocket. 

" Returning to the vein, they dug a sample of the decomposed 
ore from a new place, and were about to carry it down to the 
ravine and test it, when the rain increased to a lively downpour." 

Mark was chilled to the bone, and refused to carry 
another pail of water. In slow, drawling tones 
he protested decisively : 

" Jim, I won't carry any more water. This work 
is too disagreeable. Let's go to the house and wait 
till it clears up." 

Gillis was eager to test the sample he had just 
taken out. 

" Bring just one more pail, Sam," he urged. 

" I won't do it, Jim ! " replied the now thoroughly 



48 MARK TWAIN 

disgusted Clemens. " Not a drop ! Not if I 
knew there were a million dollars in that pan ! " 

Moved by Sam's dejected appearance blue nose 
and humped back and realizing doubtless that it 
was futile to reason with him further, Jim yielded 
and emptied the sacks of dirt just dug upon the 
ground. They now started out for the nearest shelter, 
the hotel in Angel's Camp, kept by Coon Drayton, 
formerly a Mississippi River pilot. Imagine the 
jests and shouts that went around as Mark and 
Coon vied with each other in narrating interesting 
experiences. For three days the rain and the 
stories held out ; and among those told by Drayton 
was a story of a frog. He narrated this story with 
the utmost solemnity as a thing that had happened 
in Angel's Camp in the spring of '49 the story of 
a frog trained by its owner to become a wonderful 
jumper, but which failed to " make good " in a 
contest because the owner of a rival frog, in order 
to secure the winning of the wager, filled the trained 
frog full of shot during its owner's absence. This story 
appealed irresistibly to Mark as a first-rate story told 
in a first-rate way ; he divined in it the magic quality 
unsuspected by the narrator universal humour. 
He made notes in order to remember the story, 
and on his return to the Gillis' cabin, " wrote it 



THE MAN 49 

up." He wrote a number of other things besides, 
all of which he valued above the frog story ; but 
Gillis thought it the best thing he had ever 
written. 

Meantime the rain 4iad washed off the surface 
soil from their last pan, which they had left in their 
hurry. Some passing miners were astonished to 
behold the ground glittering with gold ; they ap- 
propriated it, but dared not molest the deposit 
until the expiration of the thirty- day claim-notice 
posted by Jim Gillis. They sat down to wait, 
hoping that the claimants would not return. At 
the expiration of the thirty days, the claim- jumpers 
took possession, and soon cleared out the pocket, 
which yielded twenty thousand dollars. It was one 
of the most fortunate accidents in Mark Twain's 
career. He came within one pail of water of com- 
parative wealth ; but had he discovered that pocket, 
he would probably have settled down as a pocket- 
miner, and might have pounded quartz for the rest of 
his life. Had his nerve held out a moment longer, he 
would never have gone to Angel's Camp, would never 
have heard The Story of the Jumping Frog, and 
would have escaped that sudden fame which this 
little story soon brought him. 

On his return to San Francisco, he dropped in one 



50 MARK TWAIN 

morning to see Bret Harte, and told him this story. 
As Harte records : 

( He spoke in a slow, rather satirical drawl, which was in 
itself irresistible. He went on to tell one of those extravagant 
stories, and half-unconsciously dropped into the lazy tone and 
manner of the original narrator. I asked him to tell it again 
to a friend who came in, and they asked him to write it for Thr, 
Californian. He did so, and when published it was an 
emphatic success. It was the first work of his that had 
attracted general attention, and it crossed the Sierras for an 
Eastern reading. The story was ' The Jumping Frog of Cala- 
veras.' It is now known and laughed over, I suppose, wherever 
the English language is spoken ; but it will never be as funny 
to anyone in print as it was to me, told for the first time, by 
the unknown Twain himself, on that morning in the San 
Francisco Mint." 

When Artemus Ward passed through California 
on a literary tour in 1864, Mark Twain regaled 
him as he regaled all worthy acquaintances 
with his favourite story, The Jumping Frog. Ward 
was delighted with it. 

" Write it out," he said, " give it all the necessary 
touches, and let me use it in a volume of sketches I 
am preparing for the press. Just send it to Carleton, 
my publisher, in New York." 

It arrived too late for Ward's book, and Carleton 
presented it to Henry Clapp, who published it in 
his paper, The Saturday Press of November 18, 
1864. In his Autobiography \ Mr. Clemens has narrated 



THE MAN 51 

how The Jumping Frog put a quietus on The Saturday 
Press, and was immediately copied in numerous 
newspapers in England and America. He was 
always proud of the celebrity that story achieved ; 
but he never sought to claim the credit for himself. 
He freely admits that it was not Mark Twain, but 
the frog, that became celebrated. The author, alas, 
remained in obscurity ! 

Carleton afterwards confessed that he had lost 
the chance of a life -time by giving The Jumping 
Frog away ; but Mark Twain's old friend, Charles 
Henry Webb, came to the rescue and published 
it. About four thousand copies were sold in 
three years ; but the real fame of the story 
was in its newspaper and magazine notoriety. 
In 1872 it was translated into the Revue des 
Deux Mondes ; and it was almost as widely read 
in England, India, and Australia as it was in 
America. 

Meantime Mark Twain was still awaiting the 
rewards of journalism, and doing literary hack 
work of one sort or another. In 1866 the pro- 
prietors of the Sacramento Union employed him to 
write a series of letters from the Sandwich Islands. 
The purpose of these letters was to give an account 
of the sugar industry. Mark told the story of sugar, 



52 MARK TWAIN 

but, as was his wont, threw in a lot of extraneous 
matter that had nothing to do with sugar. It was the 
extraneous matter, and not the sugar, that won him 
a wide audience on the Pacific Coast. During these 
months of " luxurious vagrancy " he described in the 
most vivid way many of the most notable features of 
the Sandwich Islands. Nowadays such letters would 
at once have been embodied in a volume. In his 
My Debut as a Literary Person, Mark Twain has 
described in admirably graphic style his great 
" scoop " of the news of the Hornet disaster ; how 
Anson Burlingame had him, ill though he was, carried 
on a cot to the hospital, so that he could interview the 
half-dead sailors. His bill twenty dollars a week for 
general correspondence, and one hundred dollars a 
column for the Hornet story was paid with all good 
will. On the strength of this story, he hoped to 
become a " Literary Person, "and sent his account of 
the Hornet disaster to Harper's Magazine, where it 
appeared in December, 1866. But alas ! he could 
not give the banquet he was going to give to celebrate 
his debut as a " Literary Person." He had not 
written the " Mark Twain " distinctly, and when it 
appeared it had been transformed into " Mike 
Swain " ! 

When Mark returned to San Francisco, he resolved 



THE MAN 53 

to follow the example of Stoddard and Mulford, 
and " enter the lecture field." The " extraneous 
matter " in his letters to the Sacramento Union had 
made him " notorious " ; and, as he put it, " San 
Francisco invited me to lecture." The historic 
account of that lecture, in Roughing It, is found 
elsewhere in this book. Noah Brooks, editor of the 
Alia California, who was present at this lecture, 
has written the following graphic piece of description : 
" Mark Twain's method as a lecturer was distinctly 
unique and novel. His slow, deliberate drawl, 
the anxious and perturbed expression of his visage, 
the apparently painful effort with which he framed 
lus sentences, and, above all, the surprise that spread 
over his face when the audience roared with delight 
or rapturously applauded the finer passages of his 
word-painting, were unlike anything of the kind 
they had ever known. All this was original ; it 
was Mark Twain." Employing D. E. M r Carthy 
as his agent, Mark gave a number of lectures at 
various places on the Pacific Coast. From this 
time forward we recognize in Mark Twain one of 
the supreme masters of the art of lecturing in our 
time. 

In December, 1866, he set out for New York, pre- 
paratory to the grand tour around the world. His own 



54 MARK TWAIN 

account of the circular describing the projected trip 
is famous. He had proposed, for twelve hundred 
dollars in gold, at the rate of twenty dollars apiece, 
to write a series of letters for the Alia California. 
Brooks, the editor, fortified the grave misgivings 
of the proprietors over this proposition ; but Colonel 
John M c Comb (then on the editorial staff) argued 
vehemently for Mark, and turned the scale in his 
favour. While Mark was in New York, he was 
urged by Frank Fuller, whom he had known as 
Territorial Governor of Utah, to deliver a lecture 
in order to establish his reputation on the Atlantic 
coast. Fuller, an enthusiastic admirer of Mark 
Twain, overcame all objections, and engaged Cooper 
Union for the occasion. Though few tickets were 
sold, Fuller cleverly succeeded in packing the hall 
by sending out a multitude of complimentary 
tickets to the school-teachers of New York City and 
the adjacent territory. That lecture proved to be a 
supreme success Mark's reputation as a lecturer 
on the Atlantic coast was assured. 

On June 10, 1867, the Quaker City set sail for its 
Oriental tour. It bore on board a comparatively 
unknown person of the name of Clemens, who, in 
applying for passage, represented himself to be a 
Baptist minister in ill-health from San Francisco ! 



THE MAN 55 

It brought back a celebrity, destined to become 
famous throughout the world. Prior to sailing he 
arranged to contribute letters to the New York 
Tribune and the New York Herald, as well as to the 
Alta California. 

" His letters to the Alta California" says Noali 
Brooks, " made him famous. It was my business 
to prepare one of these letters for the Sunday morning 
paper, taking the topmost letter from a goodly 
pile that was stacked in a pigeon-hole of my desk. 
Clemens was an indefatigable correspondent, and 
liis last letter was slipped in at the bottom of a 
tall stack. 

" It would not be quite accurate to say that 
Mark Twain's letters were the talk of the town ; 
but it was very rarely that readers of the paper did 
not come into the office on Mondays to confide 
to the editors their admiration of the writer, and 
their enjoyment of his weekly contributions. The 
California newspapers copied these letters, with 
unanimous approval and disregard of the copyrights 
of author and publisher." 

It was the Western humour, and the quaintly 
untrammelled American intelligence, focussed upon 
diverse and age-encrusted civilizations, which caught 
the instantaneous fancy of a vast public. It was 



56 MARK TWAIN 

a virgin field for the humorous observer ; Europe 
had not yet become the playground of America. 
It was rather a terra incognita, regarded with a sort 
of reverential ignorance by the average American 
tourist. By the range of his humour, the per- 
tinency of his observation, and the vigour of his 
expression he awoke immediate attention. And 
he aroused a deeply sympathetic response in the 
hearts of Americans by his manly and outspoken 
expression his respect for the worthy, the admirable, 
the praiseworthy, his scorn and detestation for the 
spurious, the specious and the fraudulent. In this 
book, for the first time, he strikes the key-note 
of his life and thought, which sounds so clearly 
throughout all his later works. It is the true be- 
ginning of his career. 

On his return to the United States in November, 
he resumed his newspaper work, this time at the 
National Capital. On his arrival there he found a 
letter from Elisha Bliss, of the American Publishing 
Company, proposing a volume recounting the 
adventures of the " Excursion," to be elaborately 
illustrated, and sold by subscription on a five per 
cent, royalty. He eagerly accepted the offer and set 
to work on his notes. 

" I knew Mark Twain in Washington," says 



THE MAN 57 

Senator William M. Stewart of Nevada, in his 
reminiscences A Senator of the Sixties, "at a time 
when he was without money. He told me his 
condition, and said he was very anxious to get out 
his book. He showed me his notes, and I saw that 
they would make a great book, and probably bring 
him in a fortune. I promised that I would ' stake ' 
him until he had the book written. I made him a 
clerk to my committee in the senate, which paid 
him six dollars per day ; then I hired a man for 
one hundred dollars per month to do the work ! " 
His mischievously extravagant description of Mark 
Twain at this time is eminently worthy of record : 
" He was arrayed in a seedy suit which hung upon 
his lean frame in bunches, with no style worth 
mentioning. A sheaf of scraggly, black hair 
leaked out of a battered, old, slouch hat, like 
stuffing from an ancient Colonial sofa, and 
an evil-smelling cigar butt, very much frazzled, 
protruded from the corner of his mouth. He 
had a very sinister appearance. He was a man 
I had known around the Nevada mining camps 
several years before, and his name was Samuel 
L. Clemens." 

It was during this winter that Mark wrote a 
number of humorous articles and sketches TJie 



58 MARK TWAIN 

Facts in the Case of the Great Beef Contract, the 
account of his resignation as clerk of the Senate 
Committee on Conchology, and Riley Newspaper 
Correspondent. His time was chiefly devoted to 
preparing the material for his book ; but finding 
Washington too distracting, he returned to San 
Francisco and completed the manuscript there 
in July, 1868. For a year the publication of the 
book was delayed, as recorded in the Autobiography ; 
but it finally appeared in print following Mark's 
indignant telegram to Bliss that, if the book was 
not on sale in twenty-four hours, he would bring 
suit for damages. Mark Twain records that in 
nine months the book had taken the publishing 
house out of debt, advanced its stock from twenty- 
five to two hundred, and left seventy thousand 
dollars clear profit. Eighty-five thousand copies 
were sold within sixteen months, the largest sale of a 
four dollar book ever achieved in America in so short 
a time up to that date. It is, miraculous to relate, 
still the leader in its own special field a " best- 
seller " for forty years ! 

The proprietors of the Alta California were exceed- 
ing wroth when they heard that Clemens was prepar- 
ing for publication the very letters which they had 
commissioned him to write and had printed in their 



THE MAN 59 

own paper. They prepared to publish a cheap paper- 
covered edition of the letters, and sent the American 
Publishing Co. a challenge in the shape of an advance 
notice of their publication. Clemens hurried back 
to San Francisco from the East, and soon 
convinced the proprietors of the Alta California 
of the authenticity of his copyright. The paper- 
covered edition was then and there abandoned 
forever. 

Before leaving the West to settle permanently 
in the East, Mark Twain was associated for a short 
time with the Overland Monthly, edited by Bret 
Harte. In his review of The Innocents Abroad, 
Harte asserted that Clemens deserved " to rank 
foremost among Western humorists " ; but he was 
grievously disappointed in the first few contributions 
from Clemens to the Overland Monthly notably By 
Rail through France (later incorporated in The 
Innocents Abroad) because of their perfect gravity. 
At last, A Mediceval Romance a story which 
has been said to contain the germ of A Con- 
necticut Yankee, because of its burlesque of 
mediaevalism won the enthusiastic approval of 
Bret Harte. 

From this time forward, Samuel L. Clemens is 
seen in a new environment, in association with new 



60 MARK TWAIN 

ideas and a new civilization. The liistory of this 
second period does not fall within the scope of the 
present work. It has just been narrated with 
brilliancy and charm by his close associate and 
most intimate friend, Mr. William Dean Howells, 
in his admirable book My Mark Twain. In the 
subsequent portion of the present work attention 
will be directed solely to those features of Mark 
Twain's life which have a direct bearing upon his 
career as a man of letters, and which throw 
into relief the progressive development of his 
genius. 

The South and the West contributed to Mark 
Twain's development, and added to his store of 
vital experience, in greater measure than all the 
other influences of his life combined. From the 
inexhaustible well of those experiences he drew 
ever fresh contributions for the satisfaction of the 
world. His mind was stocked with the rich, crude 
ore of early experience the romance and the reality 
of a life full of prismatic variations of colour. The 
civilization of the East, its culture and refinement, 
tempered the genius of Mark Twain in conformity 
with the indispensable criteria of classic art. Under 
the broadening influence of its persistent nationalism, 
he became more deeply, more profoundly, imbued 



THE MAN 61 

with the comprehensive ideals of American democ- 
racy. He never lost the first fine virginal spontaneity 
of his native style, never weakened in the vigour 
of his thought or in the primitiveness of his expression. 
His contact with the East compassed the liberation 
of that vast fund of stored-up early experiences, 
acquired through grappling with life in many a 
rude encounter. 

Out of its own life, the East never contributed to 
Mark Twain's works, in any appreciably momentous 
way, either volume or immensity of fertile, suggestive 
human experience. If we eliminate from the list 
of Mark Twain's works those books which have 
their roots deep set in the soil of South and West, 
we eliminate the most priceless assets of his art. 
Indeed, it may be doubted whether, were those 
works struck from the catalogue of his contributions, 
Mark Twain could justly rank as a great genius. 
To his association with the South and the Southwest 
are due Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Pudd'nhead 
Wilson, and Life on the Mississippi. The Jumping 
Frog and Roughing It belong peculiarly to the 
West, and even The Innocents Abroad falls wholly 
within the period of Mark Twain's influence by 
the West, its standards, outlook, and localized view- 
point. 



62 MARK TWAIN 

Colonel Mulberry Sellers is a veritably human 
type, the embodiment, laughably lovable, of a 
temperamental phase of American character in the 
course of the national development. But The Gilded 
Age has long since disappeared from that small 
but tremendously significant group of works which 
are tentatively destined to rank as classics. Much 
as I enjoy the satiric comedy of A Yankee in King 
Arthur's Court, I have always felt that it set before 
Europe an American type which is neither elevating 
nor inspiring nor national. It tends to the 
gratification of England and Europe, even in the 
face of its democratic demolition of feudalistic 
survival, by sealing a certain cheap type of vulgarity 
with the national stamp. One must, nevertheless, 
confess with regret that this type is the embodiment 
of an " ideal " still only too commonly cherished 
in America. The national type, I take it, is found 
in such characters as Lincoln and Phillips Brooks, 
in Lee and Henry W. Grady, in Charles W. Eliot 
and Edwin A. Alderman, and not in a provincial 
Connecticut Yankee, jovial and whole-hearted 
though he be. I say this without forgetting or 
minimizing for a moment the art displayed in effecting 
the devastating and illimitably humorous contrast 
of a present with a remotely past civilization. Joan 



THE MAN 63 

of Arc has no local association, being a pure work 
of the heart, the chivalric impulse of a noble spirit. 
The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg, viewed from 
any standpoint, is a masterpiece ; but its significance 
lies, not in the locality of its setting, but in the 
universality of its moral. 

In a word, it was the East which broadened and 
universalized the spirit of Mark Twain. We shall 
see, later on, that it steadily fostered in him a spirit 
of true nationalism and hardy democracy. But 
it was the South and the West which lavishly gave 
him of their most priceless riches, and thereby 
created in Mark Twain an unique and incomparable 
genius, the veritable type and embodiment of their 
inalienably individual life and civilization. This 
first phase of the life of Mark Twain has been so 
strongly stressed here, because the first half of his 
life has always seemed to me to have been a period 
of shall I say ? God-appointed preparation for 
the most significant and lastingly permanent 
work of the latter half, namely, the narration 
of the incidents of early experience, and the 
imaginative reminting of the gold of that ex- 
perience. 

One has only to read Mark Twain's works 
to learn the real history of his fife. There were 



64 MARK TWAIN 

momentous episodes in the latter half of his 
career ; but they were concerned with his life 
rather than with his art. We cannot, indeed, 
say what or how profound is the effect of life 
and experience on art. There was the happy 
marriage, the tragic losses of wife and children. 
There were the associations with the culture and 
art-circles of America and Europe New England, 
New York, Berlin, Vienna, London, Glasgow; the 
academic degrees Missouri, Yale; finally ancient 
Oxford for the first time conferring the coveted 
honour of its degree upon a humorist ; the honours 
his own country delighted to bestow upon him. 
And there too was that gallant struggle to pay off 
a tremendous debt, begun at sixty and accomplished 
one year sooner than he expected after the most 
spectacular and remarkable lecture tour in history. 
The beautiful chivalric spirit of this great soul 
shone brightest in disaster. He insisted that it was 
his wife who refused to compromise his debts for 
forty cents on the dollar that it was she who 
declared it must be dollar for dollar ; and when a 
fund was raised by his admirers to assist in lightening 
his burden, that it was his wife who refused to accept 
it, though he was willing enough to accept it as a 
welcome relief. 



THE MAN 65 

As an American, I can say nothing more signifi- 
cantly characteristic of the man than that he was 
a good citizen. He possessed in rich measure the 
consciousness of personal responsibility for the 
standards, government, and ideals of his town, his 
city, and his country. Civic conscientiousness burned 
strong within him ; and he fought to develop and 
to maintain breadth of public view and sanity of 
popular ideals. Blind patriotism was impossible 
for this great American : he exposed the shallow- 
ness of popular enthusiasms and the narrowness 
of rampant spread-eagleism, without regard for 
consequence to himself or his popularity. What a 
tribute to his personality that, instead of suffering, 
he gained in popularity by his honest and down- 
right outspokenness ! He wielded the lash of his 
bitter scorn and fearful irony upon the wrong-doer, 
the hypocrite, the fraud ; and aroused public opinion 
to impatience with public abuse, open offence, and 
official discourtesy. 

Samuel Langhorne Clemens impressed me as the 
most complete and human individual I have ever 
known. He was not a great thinker ; his 
views were not " advanced." The glory of his 
temperament was its splendid sanity, balance, and 
normality. The homeliest virtues of life were his 



66 MARK TWAIN 

the republican virtue of simplicity ; the domestic 
virtue of personal purity and passionately simple 
regard for the sanctity of the marriage bond ; 
the civic virtue of public honesty ; the business 
virtue of stainless private honour. Mark Twain 
was one of the supreme literary geniuses of his 
time. But he was something even more than this. 
He was not simply a great genius : he was a great 
man. 



III. THE HUMORIST 



" Exhilaration can be infinite, like sorrow ; a joke can be so 
big that it breaks the roof of the stars. By simply going 
on being absurd, a thing can become godlike ; there is but 
one step from the ridiculous to the sublime." 

Gilbert K. Chesterton : Charles Dickens. 



THE HUMORIST 

Not without wide significance in its bearing upon 
the general outlines of contemporary literature is 
the circumstance that Mark Twain served his 
apprenticeship to letters in the high school of 
journalism. Like his contemporaries, Artemus 
Ward and Bret Harte, he first found free play for 
his comic iniransigeance in the broad freedom of 
the journal for the masses. Brilliant as he was, 
Artemus Ward seemed most effective only when 
he spoke in weird vernacular through the grotesque 
mouthpiece of his own invention. Bret Harte 
sacrificed more and more of the native flavour of 
his genius in his progressive preoccupation with the 
more sophisticated refinements of the purely literary. 
Mark Twain never lost the ruddy glow of his first 
inspiration, and his style, to the very end, remained 
as it began journalistic, untamed, primitive. 

Both Rudyard Kipling and Bernard Shaw, who 
like Mark Twain have achieved comprehensive 
international reputations, have succeeded in pre- 
serving the early vigour and telling directness 



70 MARK TWAIN 

acquired in journalistic apprenticeship. It was by 
the crude, almost barbaric, cry of his journalese that 
Rudyard Kipling awoke the world with a start. 
That trenchant and forthright style which imparts 
such an air of heightened verisimilitude to his plays, 
Bernard Shaw acquired in the ranks of the new 
journalism. " The writer who aims at producing 
the platitudes which are ' not for an age, but for 
all time,' " says Bernard Shaw, " has his reward 
in being unreadable in all ages ; whilst Plato and 
Aristophanes trying to knock some sense into the 
Athens of their day, Shakespeare peopling that 
same Athens with Elizabethan mechanics and 
Warwickshire hunts, Ibsen photographing the local 
doctors and vestrymen of a Norwegian parish, 
Carpaccio painting the life of St. Ursula exactly as 
if she were a lady living in the next street to him, 
are still alive and at home everywhere among the 
dust and ashes of many thousands of academic, 
punctilious, most archeeologically correct men of 
letters and art who spent their lives haughtily 
avoiding the journalists' vulgar obsession with the 
ephemeral." Mark Twain began his career by 
studying the people and period he knew in relation 
to his own life. Jamestown, Hannibal, and Virginia 
City, the stately Mississippi, and the orgiastic. 



THE HUMORIST 71 

uproarious life of Western prairie, mountain, and 
gulch start to life and live again in the pages of his 
books. Colonel Sellers, in the main correct but 
" stretched a little " here and there ; Tom Sawyer, 
the " magerful " hero of boyhood ; the shrewd and 
kindly Aunt Polly, drawn from his own mother ; 
Huck Finn, with the tender conscience and the 
gentle heart these and many another were drawn 
from the very life. In writing of his time d propos 
of himself, Mark Twain succeeded in telling the 
truth about humanity in general and for any time. 
In the main though there are noteworthy ex- 
ceptions Mark Twain's works originated funda- 
mentally in the facts of his own life. He is a master 
humorist which is only another way of saying that 
he is a master psychologist with the added gift of 
humour because he looked upon himself always 
as a complete and well-rounded repository of uni- 
versally human characteristics. Humanus sum ; et 
nil humanum mihi alienum est this might well 
have served for his motto. It was his conviction 
that the American possessed no unique and peculiar 
human characteristics differentiating him from the 
rest of the world. In the same way, he regarded 
himself as possessing no unique or peculiar human 
characteristics differentiating him from the rest of 



72 MARK TWAIN 

the human race. Like Omar he might have said 
" I myself am Heaven and Hell " for within 
himself he recognized, in some form, at higher or 
lower power, every feature, trait, instinct, char- 
acteristic of which a human being is capable. The 
last half century of Ins life, as he himself said in his 
Autobiography, had been constantly and faithfully 
devoted to the study of the human race. His 
knowledge came from minute self-examination 
for he regarded himself as the entire human race 
compacted together. It was by concentrating his 
attention upon himself, by recognizing in himself 
the quintessential type of the race, that he succeeded 
in producing works of such pure naturalness and 
utter verity. A humour which is at bottom good 
humour is always contagious ; but there is a deeper 
and more universal appeal which springs from genial 
end unaffected representation of the human species, 
of the universal Genus Homo. 

It has been said, by foreign critics, that the in- 
tellectual life of America in general takes its cue 
from the day, whilst the intellectual life of Europe 
derives from history. If American literature be 
really " Journalism under exceptionally favourable 
conditions," as defined by the Danish critic, Johannes 
V. Jensen, then must Mark Twain be a typical 



THE HUMORIST 73 

product of American literature. A certain modicum 
of truth may rest in this startling and seemingly 
uncomplimentary definition. Interpreted liberally, 
it may be taken to mean that America finds her 
key to the future in the immediate vital present, 
rather than in a remote and hazy past. Mark 
Twain was a great creative genius because he saw 
himself, and so saw human nature, in the strong, 
searching light of the living present. He is the 
greatest genius evolved by natural selection out of 
the ranks of American journalism. Crude, rudi- 
mentary and boisterous as his early writing was, 
at times provincial and coarse, it bore upon 
its face the fresh stamp of contemporary 
actuality. 

To the American of to-day, it is not a little ex- 
asperating to be placidly assured by our British 
critics that America is sublimely unconscious that 
her childhood is gone. And this gay paradox is 
less arresting than the asseveration that America 
is lacking in humour because she is lacking in self- 
knowledge. There is a certain grimly comic irony 
in this commiseration with us, on the part of our 
British critics, for our failure joyously to realize 
our old age, which they would have us believe is 
a sort of premature senescence and decay. The 



74 MARK TWAIN 

New World is pitied for her failure to know without 
illusion the futility of the hurried pursuit of wealth, 
of the passion for extravagant opulence and in- 
ordinate display, of all the hostages youth in America 
eternally gives to old age. " America has produced 
great artists," admits Mr. Gilbert Chesterton. Yet 
he maintains that " that fact most certainly proves 
that she is full of a fine futility and the end of all 
things. Whatever the American men of genius 
are, they are not young gods making a young world. 
Is the art of Whistler a brave, barbaric art, happy 
and headlong ? Does Mr. Henry James infect us 
with the spirit of a schoolboy ? . . . Out of America 
has come a sweet and startling cry, as unmistakable 
as the cry of a dying man." This sweet and startling 
cry is less startling than the obvious reflection that 
Mr. Chesterton has chosen to illustrate his ludicrous 
paradox, the two American geniuses who have lived 
outside their own country, absorbed the art ideals 
of the older, more sophisticated civilizations, and 
lost touch with the youthful spirit, the still almost 
barbaric violence, the ongoing rush and progress 
of America. It is worthy of remark that Mr. James 
has always maintained that Mark Twain was capable 
of amusing only very primitive persons ; and Whistler, 
with his acid diablerie, was wholly alien in spirit to 



THE HUMORIST 75 

the boisterous humour of Mark Twain. That other 
brilliant but incoherent interpreter of American 
life, Mr. Charles Whibley, bound to the presupposed 
paradox of America's pathetic senescence and total 
deficiency in humour, blithely gives away his case 
in the vehement assertion that America's greatest 
national interpreter is Mark Twain ! 

To the general, Mark Twain is, first and foremost 
and exclusively, the humorist with his shrieking 
Philistinism, his dominant sense for the colossally 
incongruous, his spontaneous faculty for staggering, 
ludicrous contrast. To the reflective, Mark Twain 
subsumed within himself a " certain surcharge and 
overplus of power, a buoyancy, and a sense of 
conquest " which typified the youth of America. 
It is memorable that he breathed in his youth the 
bracing air of the prairie, shared the collective 
ardour of the Argonauts, felt the rising thrill of 
Western adventure, and expressed the crude and 
manly energy of navigation, exploration, and the 
daring hazard for new fortune. To those who knew 
him in personal intimacy, the quality that was 
outstanding, omnipresent and eternally ineradicable 
from his nature was paradoxical as it may sound 
not humour, not wit, not irony, not a thousand other 
terms that might be associated with his name, but 






76 MARK TWAIN 

the spirit of eternal youth. It is comprehensively- 
significant and conclusive that, to the day of her 
death, Mrs. Clemens never called her husband any- 
thing but the bright nickname " Youth." Mark 
Twain is great as humorist, admirable as teller of 
tales, pungent as stylist. But he has achieved 
another sort of eminence that is peculiarly gratifying 
to Americans. " They distinguish in his writings," 
says an acute French critic, " exalted and sublimated 
by his genius, their national qualities of youth and 
of gaiety, of force and of faith ; they love his philos- 
ophy, at once practical and high-minded. They 
are fond of his simple style, animated with verve 
and spice, thanks to which his work is accessible 
to every class of readers. They think he describes 
his contemporaries with such an art of distinguishing 
their essential traits, that he manages to evoke, to 
create even, characters and types of eternal verity. 
They profess for Mark Twain the same sort of 
vehement admiration that we have in France for 
Balzac." 

Whilst Mark Twain has solemnly averred that 
humour is a subject which has never had much 
interest for him, it is nothing more than a common- 
place to say that it is as a humorist, and as a humorist 
only, that the world seems to persist in regarding 



THE HUMORIST 77 

him. The philosophy of his early life was what 
George Meredith has aptly termed the " philosophy 
of the Broad Grin." Mr. Gilbert Chesterton once 
said that " American humour, neither unfathomably 
absurd like the French, nor sharp and sensible and 
full of the realities of life like the Scotch, is simply 
the humour of imagination. It consists in piling 
towers on towers and mountains on mountains ; of 
heaping a joke up to the stars and extending it to 
the end of the world." This partial and somewhat 
conventional foreign conception of American humour 
is admirably descriptive of the cumulative and 
" sky-breaking " humour of the early Mark Twain. 
Then no exaggeration was too absurd for him, no 
phantasm too unreal, no climax too extreme. 

The humour of that day was the humour bred 
of a barbaric freedom and a lawless, untrammelled 
life. Mark Twain grew up with a civilization but 
one remove from barbarism ; supremacy in marks- 
manship was the arbiter of argument ; the greatest 
joke was the discomfiture of a fellow -creature. In 
the laughter of these wild Westerners was something 
at once rustic and sanguinary. The refinements 
of art and civilization seemed effeminate, artificial, 
to these rude spirits, who laughed uproariously at 
one another, plotted dementedly in circumvention of 



78 MARK TWAIN 

each other's plans, and gloried in their defiance of both 
man and God. Deep in their hearts they cherished 
tenderness for woman, sympathy for the weak and 
the afflicted, and generosity indescribable. And 
yet they prided themselves upon their barbaric 
rusticity, glorying in a native cunning bred of their 
wild life and sharpened in the struggle for existence. 
What, after all, is The Jumping Frog but the elaborate 
narrative, in native vernacular, of a shrewd practical 
joke? As Mark Twain first heard it, this story 
was a solemn recital of an interesting incident in 
the life of Angel's Camp. It was Mark Twain who 
" created " the story : he endowed with the comic 
note of whimsicality that imaginative realization 
of une chose vue, which went round the world. 
The humour of rustic shrewdness in criticism of art, 
so elaborately exploited in The Innocents Abroad, 
was displayed, perhaps invented, by Mark Twain 
in the early journalistic days in San Francisco. 
In The Golden Era an excellent example is found 
in the following observations upon a celebrated 
painting of Samson and Delilah, then on exhibition 
in San Francisco : 

" Now what is the first thing you see in looking 
at this picture down at the Bank Exchange ? Is it 
the gleaming eye and fine face of Samson ? or the 



THE HUMORIST 79 

muscular Philistine gazing furtively at the lovely 
Delilah ? or is it the rich drapery ? or is it the 
truth to nature in that pretty foot ? No, sir. The 
first thing that catches the eye is the scissors at her 
feet. Them scissors is too modern ; thar warn't 

no scissors like them in them days by a d d 

sight." 

That was a brilliant and audacious conception, 
having the just proportion of sanguinary humour, 
embodied in Mark Twain's offer, during his lecture 
on the Sandwich Islands, to show his audience 
how the cannibals consume their food if only 
some lady would lend him a live baby. There is 
the same wildly humorous tactlessness in the delicious 
anecdote of Higgins. 

Higgins was a simple creature, who used to haul 
rock ; and on the day Judge Bagley fell down the 
court-house steps and broke his neck, Higgins was 
commissioned to carry the body in his wagon to the 
house of Mrs. Bagley and break the news to her as 
gently as possible. When he arrived, he shouted 
until Mrs. Bagley came to the door, and then tactfully 
inquired if the Widder Bagley lived there ! When 
she indignantly replied in the negative, he gently 
humoured her whim ; and inquired next if Judge 
Bagley lived there. When she replied that he did, 



80 MARK TWAIN 

Higgins offered to bet that he didn't ; and delicately 
inquired if the Judge were in. On being assured 
that he was not in at present, Higgins triumphantly 
exclaimed that he expected as much. Because 
he had the old Judge curled up out there in the 
wagon ; and when Mrs. Bagley saw him, she would 
doubtless admit that about all that could comfort 
the Judge now would be an inquest I 

Mark Twain was so fond of this bloody and ghastly 
humour that, on one occasion, he utterly over- 
reached himself and suffered serious consequences. 
In the words of his fellow- journalist, Dan De Quille : 

Mark Twain was fond of manufacturing items of the horrible 
style, but on one occasion he overdid this business, and the 
disease worked its own cure. He wrote an account of a terrible 
murder, supposed to have occurred at " Dutch Nick's," a station 
on the Carson River, where Empire City now stands. He made 
a man cut his wife's throat and those of his nine children, 
after which diabolical deed the murderer mounted his horse, 
cut his own throat from ear to ear, rode to Carson City (a 
distance of three and a half miles) and fell dead in front of 
Peter Hopkins' saloon. 

All the California papers copied the item, and several made 
editorial comment upon it as being the most shocking occurrence 
of the kind ever known on the Pacific Coast. Of course rival 
Virginia City papers at once denounced the item as a " cruel 
and idiotic hoax." They showed how the publication of such 
"shocking and reckless falsehoods" disgraced and injured the 
State, and they made it as " sultry " as possible for the Enter- 
prise and its " fool reporter." 



THE HUMORIST 81 

When the California papers saw all this and found they bad 
been sold, there was a howl from Siskiyou to San Diego. 
Some papers demanded the immediate discharge of the author 
of the item by the Enterprise proprietors. They said they 
would never quote another line from that paper while the 
rej>orter who wrote the shocking item remained on its force. 
All this worried Mark as I had never before seen him worried. 
Said he : " I am being burned alive on both sides of the 
mountains." We roomed together, and one night, when the 
persecution was hottest, he was so distressed that he could not 
sleep. He tossed, tumbled, and groaned aloud. So I set to 
work to comfort him. "Mark," said I, "nevermind this bit 
of a gale, it will soon blow itself out. This item of yours will 
be remembered and talked about when all your other work is 
forgotten. The murder at Dutch Nick's will be quoted years 
from now as the big sell of these times." 

Said Mark : w I believe you are right ; I remember I 
once did a thing at home in Missouri, was caught at it, and 
worried almost to death. I was a mere lad, and was going to 
school in a little town where I had an uncle living. I at one-c- 
left the town and did not return to it for three years. When I 
finally came back I found I was only remembered as ' the l>ov 
that played the trick on the schoolmaster.' " 

Mark then told me the story, began to laugh over it, and 
from that moment " ceased to groan." He was not discharged, 
and in less than a month people everywhere were laughing 
and joking about the "murder at Dutch Nick's." 

Out of that full, free Western life, with its tre- 
mendous hazards of fortune, its extravagant alterna- 
tions from fabulous wealth to wretched poverty, 
its tremendous exaggerations and incredible contrasts, 
was evolved a humour as rugged, as mountainous, 
r 



82 MARK TWAIN 

and as altitudinous as the conditions which gave it 
birth. Mark Twain may be said to have created, 
and made himself master of, this new and fantastic 
humour which, in its exaggeration and elaboration, 
was without a parallel in the history of humorous 
narration. At times it seemed little more than a 
sort of infectious and hilarious nonsense ; but in 
reality it had behind it all the calculation of detail 
and elaboration. There was something in it of the 
volcanic, as if at the bursting forth of some pent- 
up force of primitive nature. It consisted in piling 
Pelion on Ossa, until the structure toppled over of 
its own weight and fell with a stentorian crash of 
laughter which echoed among the stars. Whenever 
Mark Twain conceived a humorous idea, he seemed 
capable of extracting from it infinite complications 
of successive and cumulative comedy. This humour 
seemed like the mental functionings of some mad, 
yet inevitably logical jester ; it grew from more to 
more, from extravagance to extravagance, until 
reason itself tired and gave over. Such explosive 
stories as How I edited an Agricultural Payer, A 
Genuine Mexican Plug, the deciphering of the Horace 
Greeley correspondence, The Facts in the Case of 
the Great Beef Contract, and many another, as Mr. 
Chesterton has pointed out, have one tremendous 



THE HUMORIST 83 

essential of great art. " The excitement mounts up 
perpetually ; they grow more and more comic, as 
a tragedy should grow more and more tragic. The 
rack, tragic or comic, goes round until something 
breaks inside a man. In tragedy it is his heart, 
or perhaps his stiff neck. In farce I do not quite 
know what it is perhaps his funny-bone is dis- 
located ; perhaps his skull is slightly cracked." 
Mark Twain's mountainous humour, of this earlv 
type, never contains the element of final surprise, 
of the sudden, the unexpected, the impr^ou. We 
know what is coming, we surrender ourselves more 
and more to the mood of the narrator, holding 
ourselves in reserve until laughter, no longer to be 
restrained, bursts forth in a torrent of undignified 
and explosive mirth. Perhaps no better example 
can be given than the description of the sad fate 
of the camel in A Tramp Abroad. 

In Syria, at the head-waters of the Jordan, this 
camel had got hold of his overcoat ; and after he 
finished contemplating it as an article of apparel, 
he began to inspect it as an article of diet. In his 
inimitable manner, Mark describes the almost religious 
ecstasy of that camel as it devoured his overcoat 
piecemeal first one sleeve, then the other, velvet 
collar, and finally the tails. All went well until the 



84 MARK TWAIN 

camel struck a batch of manuscript containing some 
of Mark's humorous letters for the home papers. 
Their solid wisdom soon began to he heavy on the 
camel's stomach : the jokes shook him until he 
began to gag and gasp, and finally he struck state- 
ments that not even a camel could swallow with 
impunity. He died in horrible agony ; and Mark 
found on examination that the camel had choked 
to death on one of the mildest statements of fact 
that he had ever offered to a trusting public ! Here 
Mark gradually works up to an anticipated climax 
by piling on effect after effect. Our risibility is 
excited almost as much by the anticipation of the 
climax as by the recital. 

Admirable instances of the ludicrous incident, of 
the nonsensical recital, are found in the scene in 
Huckleberry Finn dealing with the performance of 
the Bang's Cameleopard or Royal Nonesuch, the 
address on the occasion of the dinner in honour 
of the seventieth anniversary of John Greenleaf 
Whittier (an historic failure), and the Turkish bath 
in The Innocents Abroad. 

In this prison filled with hot air, an attendant 
sat him down by a tank of hot water and began to 
polish liim all over with a coarse mitten. Soon 
Mark noticed a disagreeable smell, and realized that 



THE HUMORIST 85 

the more he was polished the worse he smelt. He 
urged the attendant to bury him without unnecessary 
delay, as it was obvious that he couldn't possibly 
" keep " long in such warm weather. But the 
phlegmatic attendant paid no attention to Mark's 
commands and continued to scrub with renewed 
vigour. Mark's consternation changed to alarm when 
he discovered that little cylinders, like macaroni, 
began to roll from under the mitten. They were too 
white to be dirt. He felt that he was gradually being 
pared down to a convenient size. Realizing that it 
would take hours for the attendant to trim him down 
to the proper size, Mark indignantly ordered him to 
bring a jackplane at once and get the matter over. 
To all his protests the attendant paid no attention 
at all. 

In one of the earliest critical articles about Mark 
Twain, which appeared in Appleton's Journal of 
Literature, Science and Art for July 4, 1874, Mr. G. T. 
Ferris gives an excellent appreciation of his humour. 
" Of humour in its highest phase," he says, " perhaps 
Bret Harte may be accounted the most puissant 
master among our contemporary American writers. 
Of wit, we see next to none. Mark Twain, while 
lacking the subtilty and pathos of the other, has 
more breadth, variety, and ease. His sketches of 



86 MARK TWAIN 

life are arabesque in their strange combinations. 
Bits of bright, serious description, both of landscape 
and society, carry us along till suddenly we stumble on 
some master-stroke of grotesque and irresistible fun. 
He understands the value of repose in art. One 
tires of a page where every sentence sparkles with 
points, and the author is constantly attitudinizing 
for our amusement. We like to be betrayed into 
laughter as much in books as in real life. It is the 
unconscious, easy, careless gait of Mark Twain that 
makes his most potent charm. He seems always to 
be catering as much to his own enjoyment as to that 
of the public. He strolls along like a great rollicking 
schoolboy, bent on having a good time, and deter- 
mined that his readers shall have it with him." 

Mark Twain is the most daring of humorists . 
He takes his courage in his hands for the wildest 
flights of fancy. His humour is the caricature of 
situations, rather than of individuals ; and he is 
not afraid to risk his characters in colossally ludicrous 
situations. His art reveals itself in choosing ludicrous 
situations which contain such a strong colouring 
of naturalness that one's sense of reality is not 
outraged, but titillated. Hence it is that his humour, 
in its earlier form, does not lend itself readily to 
quotation. His early humour is not epigrammatic, 



THE HUMORIST 87 

but cumulative and extensive. Each scene is a 
unit and must appear as such. Andrew Lang not 
inaptly catches the note of Mark Twain's earlier 
manner, when he speaks of his " almost Mephis- 
tophelean coolness, an unwearying search after the 
comic sides of serious subjects, after the mean possi- 
bilities of the sublime these with a native sense of 
incongruities and a glorious vein of exaggeration." 

Mark Twain began his career as a wag ; he rejoiced 
in being a fun-maker. He discarded the weird 
spellings and crude punning of his American fore- 
runners ; his object was not play upon words, but 
play upon ideas. He offered his public, as Frank 
R. Stockton pointed out, the pure ore of fun. " If 
he puts his private mark on it, it will pass current ; 
it does not require the mint stamp of the schools of 
humour. He is never afraid of being laughed at." 
Indeed, that is a large part of his stock-in-trade ; 
for throughout his entire career, nothing seemed to 
give him so much pleasure though it is one of the 
lowest forms of humour as making fun of himself. 
In describing two monkeys that got into his room 
at Delhi, he said that when he awoke, one of them 
was before the glass brushing his hair, and the other 
one had his notebook, and was reading a page of 
humorous notes and crying. He didn't mind the 



88 MARK TWAIN 

one with the hair-brush ; but the conduct of the 
other one cut him to the heart. He never forgave 
that monkey. His apostrophe, with tears, over the 
tomb of Adam only to be fully appreciated in 
connexion with his satiric indignation over the drivel 
of the maudlin Mr. Grimes, who " never bored, but 
he struck water " is an admirable example of the 
mechanical fooling of self-ridicule. 

In his penetrating study, Mark Twain a Century 
Hence, published at the time of Mr. Clemens' death, 
Professor H. T. Peck makes this observation : " We 
must judge Mark Twain as a humorist by the very 
best of all he wrote rather than by the more dubious 
productions, in which we fail to see at every moment 
the winning qualities and the characteristic form of 
this very interesting American. As one would not 
judge of Tennyson by his dramas, nor Thackeray 
by his journalistic chit-chat, nor Sir Walter Scott 
by those romances which he wrote after his fecundity 
had been exhausted, so we must not judge Mark 
Twain by the dozen or more specimens which belong 
to the later period, when he was ill at ease and growing 
old. Let us rather go back with a sort of joy to 
what he wrote when he did so with spontaneity, 
when his fun was as natural to him as breathing, 
and when his humour was all American humour 



THE HUMORIST 89 

not like that of Juvenal or Hierocles acrid, or devoid 
of anything individual but brimming over with 
exactly the same rich irresponsibility which belonged 
to Steele and Lamb and Irving. It may seem odd 
to group a son of the New World and of the great 
West with those earlier classic figures who have been 
mentioned here ; yet upon analysis it will be dis- 
covered that the humour of Mark Twain is at least 
first cousin to that which produced Sir Roger de 
Coverley and Rip Van Winkle and The Stout 
Gentleman." 

The details of the Gambetta - Fourtou duel, in 
which Mark played a somewhat frightened second, 
have furnished untold amusement to thousands. 
And his description of the inadvertent faux fas he 
committed at his first public lecture is humorous 
for any age and society. The sign announcing the 
lecture read " Doors open at 1\. The Trouble will 
begin at 8." For three days, Mark had been in a 
state of frightful suspense. Once his lecture had 
seemed humorous ; but as the day approached, it 
seemed to him to be but the dreariest of fooling, 
without a vestige of real fun. He was so panic- 
stricken that he persuaded three of his friends, who 
were giants in stature, genial and stormy voiced, to 
act as claquers and pound loudly at the faintest 



90 MARK TWAIN 

suspicion of a joke. He bribed Sawyer, a half-drunk 
man, who had a laugh hung on a hair-trigger, to 
get off, naturally and easily during the course of the 
evening, as many laughs as he could. He begged a 
popular citizen and his wife to take a conspicuous 
seat in a box, so that everybody could see them. 
He explained that when he needed help, he would 
turn toward her and smile, as a signal, that he had 
given birth to an obscure joke. Then, if ever, 
was her time not to investigate, but to respond I 

The fateful night found him in the depths of 
dejection. But heartened up by a crowded house, 
full even to the aisles, he bravely set in and proceeded 
to capture the house. His claquers hammered madly 
whenever the very feeblest joke showed its head. 
Sawyer supported their herculean efforts with bursts 
of stentorian laughter. As Mark explained, not 
without a touch of pride, inferior jokes never fared 
so royally before. But his hour of humiliation was 
at hand. On delivering a bit of serious matter with 
impressive unction, to which the audience listened 
with rapt interest, he glanced involuntarily, as if 
for her approval, at his friend in the box. He re- 
membered the compact, but it was too late he 
smiled in spite of himself. Forth came her ringing 
laugh, peal after peal, which touched off the whole 



THE HUMORIST 91 

audience : the explosion was immense ! Sawyer 
choked with laughter, and the bludgeons performed 
like pile-drivers. The little morsel of pathos was 
ruined ; but what matter, so long as the audience 
took it as an intentional joke, and applauded it with 
unparalleled enthusiasm. Mark wisely let it go 
at that ! 

Reading through The Innocents Abroad after 
many years, I find that it has not lost its power to 
provoke the most side-splitting laughter ; and the 
same may be said of A Tramp Abroad and Following 
the Equator, which, whilst not so boisterously comi- 
cal, exhibit greater mastery and restraint. His own 
luck, as Mark Twain observed on one occasion, 
had been curious all his literary life. He never 
could tell a he that anybody would doubt, nor a 
truth that anybody would believe. Could there 
be a more accurate or more concise definition of the 
effect of his writings, in especial of his travel notes ? 
Like his mother, he too never used large words, 
but he had a natural gift for making small ones 
do effective work. How delightfully human is 
hie comment on the vagaries of woman's shop- 
ping ! Human nature he found very much the 
same all over the world ; and he felt that it was so 
much like his dear native home to see a Venetian 



92 MARK TWAIN 

lady go into a store, buy ten cents' worth of blue 
ribbon, and then have it sent home in a scow. 
It was such little touches of nature as this which, 
as he said, moved him to tears in those far-off lands. 
In speaking of Palestine, he says that its holy places 
are not as deliriously beautiful as the books paint 
them. Indeed, he asserts that if one be calm and 
resolute, he can look on their beauty and live ! He 
bequeathed his rheumatism to Baden-Baden. It 
was little, but it was all he had to give. His only 
regret was that he could not leave something more 
catching. 

There is nothing better in all of The Innocents 
Abroad than his analysis of the theological hierarchy 
of the Roman Catholic Church. Disclaiming all 
intention to be frivolous, irreverent or blasphemous, 
he solemnly declared that his observations had taught 
him the real way the Holy Personages were ranked 
in Rome. " The Mother of God," otherwise the 
Virgin Mary, comes first, followed in order by the 
Deity, Peter, and some twelve or fifteen canonized 
Popes and Martyrs. Last of all came Jesus Christ 
the Saviour but even then, always as an infant 
in arms ! 

Who can ever forget the Mark Twain who kissed 
the Hawaiian stranger for his mother's sake, the 



THE HUMORIST 93 

while robbing him of his small change ; who was so 
struck by the fine points of his Honolulan horse 
that he hung his hat on one of them ; who 
rode glaciers as gaily as he rode Mexican plugs, 
and found diverting programmes of the Roman 
Coliseum, in the dust and rubbish of two thousand 
years ago ! 

Samuel L. Clemens achieved instantaneous and 
world-wide popularity at a single bound by the 
creation of a fantastic and delightfully naive char- 
acter known as " Mark Twain." At a somewhat 
later day, Bernard Shaw achieved world-wide fame 
by the creation of a legendary and fantastic wit 
known as " G. B. S." To the composition of " Mark 
Twain " went all the wild humour of ignorance the 
boisterously comic admixture of the sanguinary 
and the stoical. The humour of The Jumping Frog 
and The Innocents Abroad is the savage and naive 
humour of the mining camp, not the sophisticated 
humour of civilization. It is significant that Mme. 
Blanc, a polished and refined intelligence, found 
the nil admirari attitude of " Mark Twain " no 
more enlightening nor suggestive than the stoicism 
of the North American Indian. This mirthful and 
mock-innocent naivete, so alien to the delicate and 
subtle spirit of the French, found instant response 



94 MARK TWAIN 

in the heart of the Anglo-Saxon and Germanic 
peoples. The English and the Germans, no less 
than the Americans, rejoiced in this gay fellow 
with his combination of appealing ignorance and 
but half-concealed shrewdness. They laughed at 
this unsophisticated naif, gazing in wide-eyed wonder- 
ment at all he saw ; and they delighted in the 
consciousness that, behind this thin mask, lay an 
acute and searching intelligence revelling in the 
humorous havoc wrought by his keen perception 
of the contrasts and incongruities of life. The 
note of this early humour is perfectly caught in the 
incident of the Eygptian mummy. Deliberately 
assumed ignorance of the grossest sort, by Mark 
Twain and his companions, had the most devastating 
effect upon the foreign guide one of that countless 
tribe to all of whom Mark applied the generic name 
of Ferguson. After driving Ferguson nearly mad with 
pretended ignorance, they finally asked him if the 
mummy was dead. When Ferguson glibly replied 
that he had been dead three thousand years, he was 
dumbfounded at the fury of the " doctor " for being 
imposed upon with vile second-hand carcases. The 
poor Frenchman was warned that if he didn't bring 
out a nice, fresh corpse at once, they would brain him ! 
No wonder that, later, when he was asked for a 



THE HUMORIST 95 

description of the party, Ferguson laconically re- 
marked that they were lunatics ! 

In speaking of contemporary society, Ibsen once 
remarked : " We have made a fiasco both in the 
heroic and the lover roles. The only parts in which 
we have shown a little talent, are the naively 
comic ; but with our more highly developed self- 
consciousness we shall no longer be fitted even for 
that." With time and " our more highly developed 
self-consciousness " have largely passed the novelty 
and the charm of this early naively comic humour of 
Mark Twain. But it is as valid still, as it was in 
1867, to record honestly the impressions directly 
communicated to one by the novelties, peculiarities, 
individual standards and ideals of other peoples and 
races. Mark Twain spoke his mind with utter dis- 
regard for other people's opinions, the dicta of 
criticism or the authoritative judgment of the 
schools. The Innocents Abroad is eminently read- 
able, not alone for its humour, its clever journalism, 
its remarkably accurate and detailed information, 
and its fine descriptions. The rare quality, which 
made it " sell right along like the Bible," is that 
it is the vital record of a keen and searching 
intelligence. Mark Twain found so many of the 
" masterpieces of the world " utterly unimpressive 



96 MARK TWAIN 

and meaningless to him, that he actually began to 
distrust the validity of his own impressions. Every 
time he gloried to think that for once he had dis- 
covered an ancient painting that was beautiful and 
worthy of all praise, the pleasure it gave him was 
an infallible proof that it was not a beautiful picture, 
nor in any sense worthy of commendation ! He 
pours out the torrents of his ridicule, not indis- 
criminately upon the works of the old masters 
themselves though he regarded Nature as the 
grandest of all the old masters but upon those 
half-baked sycophants who bend the knee to an art 
they do not understand, an art of which they feign 
comprehension by mouthings full of cheap and 
meaningless tags. As potent and effective as ever, 
in its fine comic irony, is that passage in which he 
expresses his " envy " of those people who pay 
lavish lip-service to scenes and works of art which 
their expressionless language shows they neither 
realize nor understand. He reserves his most biting 
condemnation for those second-hand critics who 
accept other people's opinions for their criteria, 
and rave over " beauty," " soul," " character," 
*? expression " and " tone " in wretched, dingy, 
moth-eaten pictures. He hated with the heartiest 
detestation such people whose sole ambition seemed 



THE HUMORIST 97 

to be to make a fine show of knowledge of art by 
means of an easily acquired vocabulary of inexpres- 
sive technical terms of art criticism. 

There is much, I fear, of misguided honesty in 
Mark Twain's records of foreign travel. To the 
things which he personally reverenced, he was always 
reverential ; and his expression of likes and dislikes, 
of prejudices and predilections, was honest and 
fearless. Grant as we may the humorist's right to 
exaggerate and even to distort, for the purposes of 
his fun- making, it does not therefore follow that 
his judgments, however forthright or sincere, are 
valid, reputable criticisms. One's enjoyment of his 
fresh and hilarious humour, his persistent fun-making 
is no whit impaired by the recognition that he was 
lacking in the faculty of historic imagination and in 
the finer artistic sense. It is, in a measure, because 
of his lack of culture and, more broadly, lack of real 
knowledge, that he was enabled to evoke the laughter 
of the multitude. " The Mississippi pilot, homely, 
naive, arrogantly candid," says Mr. S. P. Sherman. 
" refuses to sink his identity in the object con- 
templated that, as Corporal Nym would have said, 
is the humour of it. He is the kind of travelling 
companion that makes you wonder why you went 
abroad. He turns the Old World into a laughing- 



98 MARK TWAIN 

stock by shearing it of its storied humanity simply 
because there is nothing in him to respond to the 
glory that was Greece, to the grandeur that was 
Rome simpler because nothing is holier to him than 
u joke. He does not throw the comic light upon 
counterfeit enthusiasm ; he laughs at art, history, and 
antiquity from the point of view of one who is 
ignorant of them and mightily well satisfied with his 
ignorance." This picture reminds us of the foreign 
critics of The Innocents Abroad and A Connecticut 
Yankee in King Arthur's Court : it is too partial 
and restricted. The whole point of Mark Twain's 
humour, as exhibited in these travel notes, is missed 
in the statement that " he does not throw the 
comic light upon counterfeit enthusiasm " for this 
might almost be taken as the " philosophy " of 
his books of foreign travel. And yet Mr. Sherman's 
dictum, in its entirety, quite clearly provokes the 
question whether, as he intimates, the " over- 
whelming majority " of his fellow-citizens also 
were not mightily pleased with Mark Twain's point 
of view, and whether they did not enjoy them- 
selves hugely in laughing, not at him, but with 
him. 

In commenting on the reasons for the broadening 
and deepening of his humour with the passage of 



THE HUMORIST 99 

time, Mr. Clemens once remarked to me : "I suc- 
ceeded in the long run, where Shillaber, Doesticks, 
and Billings failed, because they never had an ideal 
higher than that of merely being funny. The first 
great lesson of my life was the discovery that I had 
to live down my past. When I first began to lecture, 
and in my earlier writings, my sole idea was to make 
comic capital out of everything I saw and heard. 
My object was not to tell the truth, but to make 
people laugh. I treated my readers as unfairly 
as I treated everybody else eager to betray them 
at the end with some monstrous absurdity or 
some extravagant anti-climax. One night, after 
a lecture in the early days, Tom Fitch, the ' silver- 
tongued orator of Nevada,' said to me : ' Clemens, 
your lecture was magnificent. It was eloquent, 
moving, sincere. Never in my entire life have I 
listened to such a magnificent piece of descriptive 
narration. But you committed one unpardonable 
sin the unpardonable sin. It is a sin you must 
never commit again. You closed a most eloquent 
description, by which you had keyed your audience 
up to a pitch of the intensest interest, with a piece 
of atrocious anti-climax which nullified all the really 
fine effect you had produced. My dear Clemens, 
whatever you do, never sell your audience.' And 



100 MARK TWAIN 

that," continued Mr. Clemens, " was my first really- 
profitable lesson." 

It was the toning down of his youthful extrava- 
gance Fitch's precept not to " sell " his audience, 
Mrs. Fairbanks' warning not to try their endurance 
of the irreverent too far that had a markedly 
salutary effect upon Mark Twain's humorous writings. 
There can be no doubt that the deep and lifelong 
friendship of Mr. Howells, expressing itself as occasion 
demanded in the friendliest criticism, had a subduing 
influence upon Mark Twain's tendency, as a humorist, 
to extravagance and headlong exaggeration. In 
time he left the field of carpet-bag observation 
the humorous depicting of things seen from the 
rear of an observation car, so to speak and turned 
to fiction. Now at last the long pent-up flood of 
observation upon human character and human 
characteristics found full vent. Tom Sawyer and 
Huckleberry Finn are the romances of eternal youth, 
the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. They are 
freighted, however, with a wealth of pungent and 
humorous characterization that have made of them 
contemporary classics. From ethical sophistication 
and moral truantry Mark Twain evolves an in- 
exhaustible supply of humour. The revolt of mis- 
chievous and Bohemian boyhood against the stern 



THE HUMORIST 101 

limitations of formal Puritanism is, in a sense, a 
principle that he carried with him to the grave. 
' There are no more vital passages in his fiction," 
says Mr. Howells, " than those which embody char- 
acter as it is affected for good as well as for evil by 
the severity of the local Sunday-schooling and 
church-going." Out of the pangs of conscience, 
the ingenious sedatives of sophistry, the numerous 
variations of the he, he won a wholesome humour 
that left you thinking, by inversion, upon the 
moral involved. Knowledge of human nature finds 
expression in forms made permanently effective 
through the arresting permeation of humour. The 
incident of Tom Sawyer and the whitewashing of 
the fence is the sort of thing over which boy 
and man alike can chuckle with satisfaction for 
Tom Sawyer had discovered a great law of human 
action without knowing it, namely, that in order to 
make a man or boy covet a thing, it is only neces- 
sary to make the thing difficult to attain. Huck's 
reasoning about chicken stealing the exquisitely 
comic shifting of ground from morality to expediency 
is a striking example of the best type of Mark 
Twain's humour. Following his father's example, 
Huck would occasionally " lift " a chicken that 
wasn't roosting comfortable ; for had his father not 



102 MARK TWAIN 

told him that even if he didn't want the chicken 
himself, he could always find somebody that did 
want it, and a good deed ain't never forgot ? Huck 
confesses that he had never seen his Pap when he 
didn't want the chicken himself ! 

The germ of Mark Twain's humour, wherever it is 
found, from The Innocents Abroad to The Connecticut 
Yankee and Captain Storfufield's Visit to Heaven, is 
found in the mental reactions resulting from stu- 
pendous and glaring contrasts. First it is the 
Wild Western humorist, primitive and untamed, 
running amuck through the petrified formulas and 
encrusted traditions of Europe. Then comes the 
fantastic juxtaposition of the shrewd Connecticut 
Yankee, with his comic irreverence and raucous 
sense of humour, his bourgeois limitations and 
provincial prejudices, to the Court of King Arthur, 
with its medievalism, its primitive rudeness and 
social ' narrowness. How many have delighted in 
the Yankee's inimitable description of his feelings 
toward that classic damsel of the sixth century? 
At first he got along easily with the girl ; but after 
a while he began to feel for her a sort of mysterious 
and shuddery reverence. Whenever she began to 
unwind one of those long sentences of hers, and got 
it well under way, he could never suppress the feeling 



THE HUMORIST 103 

that he was standing in the awful presence of the 
Mother of the German Language ! 

Mark Twain ransacked the whole world of his 
own day, all countries, savage and civilized, for 
the display of effective and ludicrous contrast ; and 
he opened up an illimitable field for humanizing 
satire, as Mr. Ho wells has said, in his juxtaposition 
of sociologic types thirteen centuries apart. Not 
even heaven was safe from the comprehensive 
survey of his satire; and Captain Stormfleld's Visit 
to Heaven is a remarkable document, a forthright 
lay sermon, the conventional idea of heaven, the 
theologic conception of eternity, as heedlessly taught 
from the pulpit, thrown into comic, yet profoundly 
significant, relief against the background of the 
common-sense of a deeply human, thoroughly 
modern intelligence. 

Humour, as Thackeray has defined it, is a com- 
bination of wit and love. Certain it is that, in 
the case of Mark Twain, wit was a later develop- 
ment of his humour ; the love was there all 
the time. Mark Twain has not been recognized as 
a wit ; for he was primarily a humorist, and only 
secondarily a wit. But the passion for brief 
and pungent formulation of an idea grew upon 
him ; and Pudd'nhead W ikon's Calendar is a 



104 MARK TWAIN 

mine of homely and memorable aphorism, epigram, 
injunction. 

According to Mark Twain's classification, the comic 
story is English, the witty story French, the humorous 
story American. While the other two depend upon 
matter, the humorous story depends for its effect 
upon the manner of telling. The witty story and 
the comic story must be concise and end with a 
" point " ; but the humorous story may be as leisurely 
as you please and have no particular destination. 
Mark Twain alwavsmain tained that, w hile anyon e 
co uld tell effectively a co mic, or a, witty fi*y, ** 
required a person skilled in an art of a rare and dis- 
tinctive character to tell a humorous story successj: 
fully. Mark Twain was himself the supreme exemplar 
of the art of telling a humorous story. Take this 
little passage, for example, which convulsed one of his 
London audiences. He was speaking of a high 
mountain that he had come across in his travels. 
4 ' It is so cold that people who have been there find 
it impossible to speak the truth ; I know that's 
a fact (here a pause, a blank stare, a shake of the 
head, a little stroD across the platform, a sigh, a 
puff, a smothered groan), because I've (another 
pause) been (a longer pause) there myself." 
Who could equal Mark Twain as a humorous narrator, 



THE HUMORIST 105 

in his recital of the alarums and excursions, crimina- 
tions and recriminations, over the story of somebody 
else's dog he sold to General Miles for three dollars ? 
He delighted numerous audiences with his story of 
inveighing Mrs. Grover Cleveland at a White House 
reception into writing blindly on the back of a card : 
"He didn't." When she turned it over she dis- 
covered that it bore on the other side, in Mrs. Clemens' 
handwriting, the startling words : " Don't wear 
your arctics in the White House." I shall never 
forget his recital of the story of how his enthusiasm 
oozed away at a meeting in behalf of foreign missions. 
So moving was the fervid eloquence of the exhorter 
that, after fifteen minutes, if Mark Twain had had a 
blank cheque with him, he would gladly have turned 
it over, signed, to the minister, to fill out for any 
amount. But it was a very warm evening, the 
eloquence of the minister was inexhaustible and 
Mark Twain's enthusiasm for foreign missions slowly 
oozed away one hundred dollars, fifty dollars, and 
even lower still so that when the plate was actually 
passed around, Mark put in ten cents and took out 
a quarter ! 

I was a witness in London, and at Oxford, in 1907, 
of the vast, spontaneous, national reception which 
Mark Twain received from the English people. One 



106 MARK TWAIN 

incident of that memorable visit is a perfect example 
of that masterly power over an audience, that deep 
humanity, with which Mark Twain was endowed. 
At the banquet presided over by the Lord Mayor 
of Liverpool, which was the signal of Mark Twain's 
farewell to the English people, his peroration was 
as follows : 

" Many and many a year ago I read an anecdote 
in Dana's Two Years Before the Mast. A frivolous 
little self-important captain of a coasting- sloop in 
the dried-apple and kitchen-furniture trade was 
always hailing every vessel that came in sight, 
just to hear himself talk and air his small grandeurs. 
One day a majestic Indiaman came ploughing by, 
with course on course of canvas towering into the 
sky, her decks and yards swarming with sailors, with 
macaws and monkeys and all manner of strange 
and romantic creatures populating her rigging, and 
thereto her freightage of precious spices lading the 
breeze with gracious and mysterious odours of the 
Orient. Of course, the little coaster- captain hopped 
into the shrouds and squeaked a hail : * Ship ahoy ! 
What ship is that, and whence and whither ? ' In a 
deep and thunderous bass came the answer back, 
through a speaking trumpet : ' The Begum of Bengal, 
a hundred and twenty-three days out from Canton 



THE HUMORIST 107 

homeward bound ! What ship is that ? ' The little 
captain's vanity was all crushed out of him, and most 
humbly he squeaked back : ' Only the Mary Ann 
fourteen hours from Boston, bound for Kittery Point 
with with nothing to speak of ! ' That eloquent 
word ' only ' expressed the deeps of his stricken 
humbleness. 

' ; And what is my case ? During perhaps one 
hour in the twenty-four not more than that I 
stop and reflect. Then I am humble, then I am 
properly meek, and for that little time I am ' only 
the Mary Ann ' fourteen hours out, and cargoed 
with vegetables and tin-wear ; but all the other 
twenty-three my self-satisfaction rides high, and I am 
the stately Indiaman, ploughing the great seas under 
a cloud of sail, and laden with a rich freightage of the 
kindest words that were ever spoken to a wandering 
alien, I think ; my twenty-six crowded and fortunate 
days multiplied by five ; and I am the Begum of 
Bengal, a hundred and twenty-three days out from 
Canton homeward bound ! " 

Says " Charles Vale," in describing the scene : 

' The audience sat spellbound in almost painful 

silence, till it could restrain itself no longer ; and 

when in rich, resonant, uplifted voice Mark Twain 

sang out the words : w I am the Begum of Bengal, 



108 MARK TWAIN 

a hundred and twenty-three days out from Canton,' 
there burst forth a great cheer from one end of the 
room to the other. It seemed an inopportune 
cheer, and for a moment it upset the orator : yet it 
was felicitous in opportuneness. Slowly, after a 
long pause, came the last two words like that 
curious, detached and high note in which a great 
piece of music suddenly ends ' Homeward bound.' 
Again there was a cheer : but this time it was lower ; 
it was subdued ; it was the fitting echo to the beauti- 
ful words with their double significance the parting 
from a hospitable land, the return to the native land. 
. . . Only a great litterateur could have conceived 
such a passage : only a great orator could have so 
delivered it." 

Mark Twain was the greatest master of the anecdote 
this generation has known. He claimed the humorous 
story as an American invention, and one that has 
remained at home. His public speeches were little 
mosaics in the finesse of their art ; and the intri- 
cacies of inflection, insinuation, jovial innuendo which 
Mark Twain threw into his gestures, his implicative 
pauses, his suggestive shrugs and deprecative nods 
all these are hopelessly volatilized and disappear 
entirely from the printed copy of his speeches. 
He gave the most minute and elaborate study to 



THE HUMORIST 109 

the preparation of his speeches polishing them 
dexterously and rehearsing every word, every 
gesture, with infinite care. Yet his readiness and 
fertility of resource in taking advantage, and making 
telling use, of things in the speeches of those immedi- 
ately preceding him, were striking evidences of the 
rapidity of his thought-processes. In Boston, when 
asked what he thought about the existence of a 
heaven or a hell, he looked grave for a moment, 
and then replied : " I don't want to express an 
opinion. It's policy for me to keep silent. You 
see, I have friends in both places." His speech 
introducing General Hawley of Connecticut to a 
Republican meeting at Elmira, New York, is an 
admirable example of his laconic art : " General 
Hawley is a member of my church at Hartford, 
and the author of ' Beautiful Snow.' Maybe he 
will deny that. But I am only here to give him a 
character from his last place. As a pure citizen, 
I respect him ; as a personal friend of years, I have 
the warmest regard for him ; as a neighbour, whose 
vegetable garden adjoins mine, why why, I watch 
him. As the author of * Beautiful Snow,' he has 
added a new pang to winter. He is a square, true 
man in honest politics, and I must say he occupies 
a mighty lonesome position. So broad, so bountiful 



110 MARK TWAIN 

is his character that he never turned a tramp empty- 
handed from his door, but always gave him a letter 
of introduction to me. Pure, honest, incorruptible, 
that is Joe Hawley. Such a man in politics is like 
a bottle of perfumery in a glue factory it may 
modify the stench, but it doesn't destroy it. I 
haven't said any more of him than I would say of 
myself. Ladies and gentlemen, this is General 
Hawley." 

Mr. Chesterton maintains that Mark Twain was a 
wit rather than a humorist perhaps something more 
than a humorist. " Wit," he explains, " requires 
an intellectual athleticism, because it is akin to 
logic. A wit must have something of the same 
running, working, and staying power as a mathe- 
matician or a metaphysician. Moreover, wit is a 
fighting thing and a working thing. A man may 
enjoy humour all by himself ; he may see a joke 
when no one else sees it ; he may see the point and 
avoid it. But wit is a sword ; it is meant to make 
people feel the point as well as see it. All honest 
people saw the point of Mark Twain's wit. Not a 
few dishonest people felt it." The epigram, " Be 
virtuous, and you will be eccentric," has become 
a catchword ; and everyone has heard Mark Twain's 
reply to the reporter asking for advice as to what 



THE HUMORIST 111 

to cable his paper, which had printed the statement 
that Mark Twain was dead : " Say that the state- 
ment is greatly exaggerated." He has admirably 
taken off humanity's enduring self-conceit in the 
statement that there isn't a Parallel of Latitude but 
thinks it would have been the Equator if it had had 
its rights. There is something peculiarly American 
in his warning to young girls not to marry that is, 
not to excess ! His remarks on compliments have a 
delightful and naive freshness. He points out how 
embarrassing compliments always are. It is so 
difficult to take them naturally. You never know 
what to say. He had received many compliments 
in his lifetime, and they had always embarrassed 
him he always felt that they hadn't said enough ! 
The incident of Mark Twain's first meeting with 
Whistler is quaintly illustrative of one phase of his 
broader humour. Mark Twain was taken by a 
friend to Whistler's studio, just as he was putting 
the finishing touches to one of his fantastic studies. 
Confident of the usual commendation, Whistler in- 
quired his guest's opinion of the picture. Mark Twain 
assumed the air of a connoisseur, and approaching 
the picture remarked that it did very well, but 
" he didn't care much for that cloud " ; and suiting 
the action to the word, appeared to be on the point 



112 MARK TWAIN 

of nibbing the cloud with his gloved finger. In 
genuine horror, Whistler exclaimed : " Don't touch 
it, the paint's wet ! " " Oh, that's all right," replied 
Mark with his characteristic drawl : " these aren't 
my best gloves, anyhow ! " Whereat Whistler re- 
cognized a congenial spirit, and their first hearty 
laugh together was the beginning of a friendly and 
congenial relationship. 

I recall an incident in connection with the writing 
of his Autobiography. On more than one occasion, 
he declared that the Autobiography was going to 
be something awful as caustic, fiendish, and devilish 
as he could make it. Actually, he was in the habit 
of jotting on the margin of the page, opposite to some 
startling characterization or diabolic joke : " Not 
to be published until ten (or twenty, or thirty) years 
after my death." One day I heard him vent his 
pent-up rage, in bitter and caustic words, upon a 
certain strenuous, limelight American politician. I 
could not resist the temptation to ask him if this, too, 
were going into the Autobiography. " Oh yes," 
he replied, decisively. " Everything goes in. I 
make no exceptions. But," he added reflectively, 
with the suspicion of a twinkle in his eye, " I shall 
make a note beside this passage : ' Not to be published 
until one hundred and fifty years after my death ' ! " 



THE HUMORIST 113 

Mark Twain had numerous " doubles " scattered 
about the world. The number continually increased ; 
once a month on an average, he would receive a 
letter from a new " double," enclosing a photograph 
in proof of the resemblance. Mark once wrote to 
one of these doubles as follows : 

My dear Sir 

Many thanks for your letter, with enclosed 
photograph. Your resemblance to me is remarkable. 
In fact, to be perfectly honest, you look more like 
me than I look like myself. I was so much impressed 
by the resemblance that I have had your picture 
framed, and am now using it regularly, in place of a 
mirror, to shave by. 

Yours gratefully, 

S. L. Clemens. 

Although not generally recognized, it is un- 
doubtedly true that Mark Twain was a wit as well 
as a humorist. He was the author of many epigrams 
and curt aphorisms which have become stock phrases 
in conversation, quoted in all classes of society 
wherever the English language is spoken. His phras- 
ing is unpretentious, even homely, wearing none of 
the polished brilliancy of La Rochefoucauld or Bernard 
Shaw ; but Mark Twain's sayings " stick r * because 



114 MARK TWAIN 

they are rooted in shrewdness and hard common- 
sense. 

Mark Twain's warning to the two burglars who 
stole his silverware from " Stormfield " and were 
afterwards caught and sent to the penitentiary, is 
very amusing, though not highly complimentary to 
American political life : 

" Now you two young men have been up to my 
house, stealing my tinware, and got pulled in by these 
Yankees up here. You had much better have stayed 
in New York, where you have the pull. Don't you 
see where you're drifting. They'll send you from 
here down to Bridgeport jail, and the next thing you 
know you'll be in the United States Senate. There's 
no other future left open to you." 

The sign he posted after the visitation of these 
same burglars was a prominent ornament of the 
billiard room at " Stormfield " : 

Notice 
To the next Burglar 

There is nothing but plated-ware in this house, 
now and henceforth. You will find it in that brass 
thing in the dining-room over in the corner by the 
basket of kittens. If you want the basket, put the 
kittens in the brass thing. 



THE HUMORIST 115 

Do not make a noise, it disturbs the family. 
You will find rubbers in the front hall, by that 
thing which has the umbrellas in it, chiffonnier, I 
think they call it, or pergola, or something like 
that. 

Please close the door when you go away ! 
Very truly yours, 

S. L. Clemens. 

Now these are examples of Mark Twain's humour, 
American humour, such as we are accustomed to 
expect from Mark Twain humour not unmixed with 
a strong spice of wit. But Mark Twain was capable 
of wit, pure and unadulterated, curt and concise. I 
once saw him write in a young girl's birthday book 
an aphorism which he said was one of his favourites : 
" Truth is our most valuable possession. Let us 
economize it." The advice he once gave me as to the 
proper frame of mind for undergoing a surgical opera- 
tion has always remained in my memory : " Console 
yourself with the reflection that you are giving the 
doctor pleasure, and that he is getting paid for it." 
Peculiarly memorable is his forthright dictum that 
the statue which advertises its modesty with a 
fig-leaf brings its modesty under suspicion. His 
business motto unfortunately, a motto that he 



116 MARK TWAIN 

never followed has often been attributed, because 
of its canny shrewdness, to Mr. Andrew Carnegie. 
The idea was to put all your eggs in one basket and 
then watch that basket ! His anti-Puritanical con- 
victions find concrete expression in his assertion that 
few things are harder to put up with than the annoy- 
ance of a good example. Truly classic, in usage if 
not in form, is his happy saying that faith is believing 
what you know ain't so. His definition of a classic 
as a book which people praise but don't read, is as 
frequently heard as are Biblical and Shakespearian 
tags. 

Mr. Clemens once told me that he had composed 
between two and three hundred maxims during his 
fife. Many of them, especially those from the old 
and new calendars of Pudd'nhead Wilson, bear the 
individual and peculiar stamp of Mark Twain's 
phraseology and outlook upon life quaint, genial, 
and shrewd. In pursuance of his deep-rooted belief 
in the omnipotent power of training, he remarked 
that the peach was once a bitter almond, the cauli- 
flower nothing but cabbage with a college education. 
He himself was not guiltless of that irreverence which 
he defined as disrespect for another man's god. 
Women took an almost unholy delight in describing 
some of their undesirable acquaintances, in Mark 



THE HUMORIST 117 

Twain's phrase, as neither quite refined, nor quite 
unrefined, but just the kind of person that keeps 
a parrot ! 

At times, Mark Twain realized the sanctifying 
power of illusions in a world of harsh realities ; for 
he asserted that when illusions are gone you may 
still exist, but you have ceased to live. A depress- 
ing sen^e of world -weariness sometimes overbore the 
native joyousness of his temperament ; and he 
expressed his sense of deep gratitude to Adam, 
the first great benefactor of the race because 
he had brought death into the world. A funeral 
always gave Mark Twain a sense of spiritual uplift, 
a sense of thankfulness because the dead friend had 
been set free. He thought it was far harder to 
live than to die. 

In one of his early sketches, there was admirable 
wit in the suggestion to the organist for a hymn 
appropriate to a sermon on the Prodigal Son : 

" Oh ! we'll all get blind drunk 
When Johnny comes marching home ! " 

And in Tlie Innocents Abroad there is the same sort 
of brilliant wit in the mad logic of his innocent 
query, on learning that St. Philip Neri's heart was 
so inflamed with divine love that it burst his ribs : 



118 MARK TWAIN 

" I was curious to know what Plulip had for dinner. 1 ' 
Mark Twain was capable of epigrams worthy, in 
their dark levity, of Swift himself. In speaking of 
Pudd'nhead Wilson. Anna E. Keeling has said: 
" Humour there is in almost every scene and every 
page ; but. it is such humour as sheds a wiid gleam 
on the greatest Shakespearian tragedies on the 
deep melancholy of Hamlet, the heartbreak of Lear." 1 ' 
The greatest ironic achievements of Mark Twain, 
in brief compass, are the two stories : The Man that 
Corrupted Hadleyhurg and Was it Heaven or Hell? 
They reveal the power and subtlety of his art as an 
ironic humorist or shall we rather say, ironic wit ? 
For they range all the way from the most mordant 
to the most pathetic irony from Mephistophelean 
laughter to warm, human tears 

"Sunt lachrymce rerum." 

" Make a reputation first by your more solid 
achievements," counselled Oliver Wendell Holmes. 
" You can't expect to do anything great with 
Macbeth, if you first come on flourishing Paul Pry's 
umbrella." Mark Twain has had to pay in full the 
penalty of comic greatness. The world is loth to 
accept a popular character at any rating other than 
its own. Whosoever sets himself the task of amusing 



THE HUMORIST 119 

the world must realize the almost insuperable 
difficulty of inducing the world to regard him as a 
serious thinker. Says Moliere 

" C'est une etrange entreprise que celle 
de J aire lire les honnetes gens." 

The strangeness of the undertaking is no less 
pronounced than the rigour of its obligations. Mark 
Twain began his career as a professional humorist 
and fun-maker ; he frankly donned the motley, the 
cap and bells. The man-in-the-street is not easily 
persuaded that the basis of the comic is, not un- 
common nonsense, but glorified common-sense. 
The French have a fine-flavoured distinction in 
ce qui remue from ce qui cmeut ; and if remuage is 
the defining characteristic of A Tramp Abroad, 
Roughing It, and The Innocents Abroad, there is 
much of deep seriousness and genuine emotion in 
Life on the Mississippi, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry 
Finn, and Pudd'nhead Wilson. In the course of 
his lifetime, Mark Twain evolved from a fun-maker 
into a masterly humorist, from a sensational journalist 
into a literary artist. In explanation of this, let 
us recall the steps in that evolution. In his youth, 
this boy had no schooling worth speaking of ; he 
lived in an environment that promised only stagna- 
tion and decay. As the young boy, barefooted and 



120 MARK TWAIN 

dirty, watched the steamboats pass and repass 
upon the surface of that great inland deep, the 
Mississippi, he conceived the ambition and the 
ideal of learning to know and to master that mysteri- 
ous w r ater. His dream, in time, was realized ; he not 
only became a pilot, but which is infinitely more 
significant he changed from a callow, indolent, 
unobservant lad, with undeveloped faculties, to a 
man, a master of the river, with a knowledge which, 
in its accuracy and minuteness, was, for its purpose, 
all-sufficient and complete. 

I have always felt that, had it not been for this 
training in the great university of the Mississippi, 
Mark Twain might never have acquired that trained 
faculty for minute detail and descriptive elaboration 
without which his works, full of flaws as they are, 
might never have revealed the very real art which 
they betray. For the art of Mark Twain is the art 
of taking infinite pains the art of exactitude, 
precision and detail. Humour per se is as ephemeral 
as the laugh dying in the very moment of its birth. 
Art alone can give it enduring vitality. Mark 
Twain's native temperament, rich with humour 
and racy of the soil, drank in the wonder of the 
river and unfolded through communication with 
all its rude human devotees ; the quick mind, the 



THE HUMORIST 121 

eager susceptibility, developed and matured through 
rigorous education in particularity and detail ; 
and before his spirit the very beauties of Nature 
herself disappeared in face of a consuming sense of 
the work of the world that must be done. 

Mark Twain never wholly escaped the penalty 
that his reputation as a humorist compelled him to 
pay. He became more than popular novelist, more 
than a jovial entertainer : he became a public 
institution, as unmistakable and as national as 
the Library of Congress or the Democratic Party. 
Even in the latest years of his life, though long since 
dissociated in fact from the category of Artemus 
Ward, John Phoenix. Josh Billings, and Petroleum 
V. Nasby, Mark Twain could never be sure that his 
most solemn utterance might not be drowned in 
roars of thoughtless laughter. 

11 It has been a very serious and a very difficult 
matter," Mr. Clemens once said to me, " to doff the 
mask of humour with which the public is accustomed, 
in thought, to see me adorned. It is the incor- 
rigible practice of the public, in this or in any 
country, to see only humour in the humorist, how- 
ever serious his vein. Not long ago I wrote a poem, 
which I never dreamed of giving to the public, on 
account of its seriousness ; but on being invited 



122 MARK TWAIN 

to address the women students of a certain great 
university, I was persuaded by a near friend to 
read this poem. At the close of my lecture I said : 
1 Now, ladies, I am going to read you a poem of 
mine ' which was greeted with bursts of uproarious 
laughter. ' But this is a truly serious poem,' I 
asseverated only to be greeted with renewed and, 
this time, more uproarious laughter. Nettled by 
this misunderstanding, I put the poem in my pocket, 
saying, ' Well, young ladies, since you do not believe 
me to be serious, I shall not read the poem ' at which 
the audience almost went into convulsions of laughter." 
Humour is a function of nationality. The same 
joke, as related by an American, a Scotchman, an 
Irishman, a Frenchman, carries with it a distinctive 
racial flavour and individuality of approach. Indeed, 
it is open to question whether most humour is not 
essentially local in its nature, requiring some 
specialized knowledge of some particular locality. 
It would be quite impossible for an Italian on his 
native heath to understand that great political 
satirist, "Mr. Dooley," on the Negro Problem, for 
example. After reading George Ade's Fables in 
Slang, Mr. Andrew Lang was driven to the desperate 
conclusion that humour varies with the parallels of 
latitude, a joke in Chicago being a riddle in London ! 



THE HUMORIST 1S3 

If one would lay his finger upon the secret of Mark 
Twain's world-wide popularity as a humorist, he 
would find that secret, primarily, in the universality 
and humanity of his humour. Mark Twain is a 
master in the art of broad contrast ; incongruity 
lurks on the surface of his humour ; and there is 
about it a staggering and cyclopean surprise. But 
these are mere surface qualities, more or less common, 
though at lower power, to all forms of humour. 
Nor is his international vogue as a humorist to be 
attributed to any tricks of style, to any breadth of 
knowledge, or even to any depth of intellectuality. 
His hold upon the world is due to qualities, not of 
the head, but of the heart. I once heard Mr. Clemens 
say that humour is the key to the hearts of men, 
for it springs from the heart ; and worthy of record 
is his dictum that there is far more of f ling than of 
thought in genuine humour. 

Mark Twain succeeded in " tickling the midriff 
of the English-speaking races " with a single story ; 
and in time he showed himself to be, not only 
a man of letters, but also a man of action. His 
humour has been defined as the sunny break of his 
serious purpose. Horace Walpole has said that the 
world is a comedy to the man of thought, a tragedy 
to the man of feeling. To the great humorist to 



124 MARK TWAIN 

Mark Twain the world was a tragi-comedy. Like 
fimile Faguet, he seemed at times to feel that grief 
is the most real and important thing in the world 
because it separates us from happiness. He was 
an exemplar of the highest, truest, sincerest humour, 
perfectly fulfilling George Meredith's definition : 
" If you laugh all round him, tumble him, roll him 
about, deal him a smack, and drop a tear on him, 
own his likeness to you and yours to your neighbour, 
spare him as little as you shun, pity him as much 
as you expose, it is the spirit of Humour that is 
moving you." Mark Twain's fun was light-hearted 
and insouciant, his pathos genuine and profound. 
' ; He is, above all," said that oldest of English 
journals, The Spectator, " the fearless upholder of all 
that is clean, noble, straightforward, innocent, and 
manly. . . . If he is a jester, he jests with the mirth 
of the happiest of the Puritans ; he has read much of 
English knighthood, and translated the best of it 
into his living pages ; and he has assuredly already 
won a high degree in letters in having added more 
than any writer since Dickens to the gaiety of the 
Empire of the English language." 

Mark Twain's humour flowed warm from the 
heart. He enjoyed to the utmost those two in- 
alienable blessings : " laughter and the love of 



THE HUMORIST 125 

friends." He woke the laughter of an epoch and 
numbered a world for his friends. " He is the 
true consolidator of nations," said Mr. Augustine 
Birrell. " His delightful humour is of the kind 
which dissipates and destroys national prejudices. 
His truth and his honour, his love of truth and his 
love of honour, overflow all boundaries. He has 
made the world better by his presence." 



IV. THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 



Art transmitting the simplest feelings of common life, but 
such, always, as are accessible to all men in the whole world 
the art of common life the art of a people universal art." 

Tolstoy : What is Art? 



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THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 

Some years ago a group of Mark Twain's friends, in 
a spirit of fun, addressed a letter to 

MARK TWAIN 
God Knows Where. 

Though taking a somewhat circuitous route, the 
letter went unerringly to its goal ; and it was not 
long before the senders of that letter received the 
laconic, but triumphant reply : " He did." They 
now turned the tables on the jubilant author, who 
equally as quickly received a letter addressed 

MARK TWAIN 
The Devil Knows Where. 

It seemed that " he " did, too ! 

In his lifetime Mark Twain won a fame that was 
literally world-wide a fame, indeed, which seemed 
to extend to realms peopled by noted theological 
characters. From very humble beginnings he 
used facetiously to speak of coming up from the 
"very dregs of society "! Mark Twain achieved 



129 



130 MARK TWAIN 

international eminence and repute. This accomplish- 
ment was due to the power of brain and personality 
alone. In this sense, his career is unprecedented 
and unparalleled in the history of American literature. 
It is a mark of the democratic independence of 
America that she has betrayed a singular indifference 
to the appraisal of her literature at the hands of 
foreign criticism. Upon her writers who have ex- 
hibited derivative genius Irving, Hawthorne, 
Emerson, Longfellow American criticism has 
lavished the most extravagant eulogiums. The 
three geniuses who have made permanent contribu- 
tions to world-literature, who have either embodied 
in the completest degree the spirit of American 
democracy, or who have had the widest following 
of imitators and admirers in foreign countries, still 
await their final and just deserts at the hands of 
critical opinion in their own land. The genius of 
Edgar Allan Poe gave rise to schools of literature 
on the continent of Europe ; yet in America his 
name must remain for years debarred from inclusion 
in a so-called Hall of Fame ! Walt Whitman and 
Mark Twain, the two great interpreters and em- 
bodiments of America, represent the supreme con- 
tribution of democracy to universal literature. In 
so far as it is legitimate for anyone to be denominated 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 131 

a " self-made man " in literature, these men are 
justly entitled to such characterization. They owe 
nothing to European literature their genius is 
supremely original, native, democratic. The case 
of Mark Twain, which is our present concern, is a 
literary phenomenon which imposes upon criticism, 
peculiarly upon American criticism, the distinct 
obligation of tracing the steps in his unhalting 
climb to an eminence that was international in its 
character, and of defining those signal qualities, 
traits, characteristics individual, literary, social, 
racial, national which compassed his world - wide 
fame. For if it be true that the judgment of foreign 
nations is virtually the judgment of posterity, 
then is Mark Twain already a classic. 

Upon the continent of Europe, Mark Twain first 
received notable recognition in France at the hands 
of that brilliant woman, Mme. Blanc (Th. Bentzon), 
who devoted so much of her energies to the popular- 
ization of American literature in Europe. That one 
of her series of essays upon the American humorists 
which dealt with Mark Twain appeared in the 
Revue des Deux Mondes in 1872 ; in it appeared 
her admirable translation of The Jumping Frog. 
There is no cause for surprise that a scholarly French- 
woman, reared on classic models and confined by 



132 MARK TWAIN 

rigid canons of art, should stand aghast at this 
boisterous, barbaric, irreverent jester from the wilds 
of America. When it is remembered that Mark 
Twain began his career as one of the sage-brush 
writers and gave free play to his passion for horse- 
play, his desire to " lay a mine " for the other fellow, 
and his defiance of the traditional and the classic, 
it is not to be wondered at that Mme. Blanc, while 
honouring him with recognition in the most authori- 
tative literary journal in the world, could not conceal 
an expression of amazement over his enthusiastic 
acceptance in English-speaking countries. 

" Mark Twain's Jumping Frog should be mentioned in the 
first place as one of his most popular little stories almost a 
type of the rest. It is, nevertheless, rather difficult for us to 
understand, while reading this story, the roars of laughter ' 
that it excited in Australia and in India, in New York and in 
London; the numerous editions of it which appeared; the 
epithet of ' inimitable ' that the critics of the English press 
have unanimously awarded to it. 

"We may remark that a Persian of Montesquieu, a Huron 
of Voltaire, even a simple Peruvian woman of Madame de 
Graffigny, reasons much more wisely about European civiliza- 
tion than an American of San Francisco. The fact is, that it 
is not sufficient to have wit, or even natural taste, in order to 
appreciate works of art. 

"It is the right of humoi-ists to be extravagant; but still 
common sense, although carefully hidden, ought sometimes to 
make itself apparent. ... In Mark Twain the Protestant is 
enraged against the pagan worship of broken marble statues 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 133 

the democrat denies that there was any poetic feeling in the 
middle ages. The sublime ruins of the Coliseum only impressed 
him with the superiority of America, which punishes its criminals 
by forcing them to work for the benefit of the State, over ancient 
Rome, which could only draw from the punishments which it 
inflicted the passing pleasure of a spectacle. 

" In the course of this voyage in company with Mark Twain, 
we at length discover, under his good-fellowship and apparent 
ingenuousness, faults which we should never have expected. 
He has in the highest degree that fault of appearing astonished 
at nothing common, we may say, to all savages. He confesses 
himself that one of his great pleasures is to horrify the guides 
by his indifference and stupidity. He is, too, decidedly envious. 
. . . We could willingly pardon him his patriotic self-love, often 
wounded by the ignorance of Europeans, above all in what 
concerns the New World, if only that national pride were 
without mixture of personal vanity ; but how comes it that 
Mark Twain, so severe upon those poor Turks, finds scarcely 
anything to critici/.e in Russia, where absolutism has neverthe- 
less not ceased to flourish ? We need not seek far for the 
cause of this indulgence : the Czar received our ferocious 
republicans ; the Empress, and the Grand Duchess Mary, spoke 
to them in English. 

" Taking the Pleasure Trip on the Continent altogether, does 
it merit the success it enjoys ? In spite of the indulgence 
that we cannot but show to the judgments of a foreigner; 
while recollecting that those amongst us who have visited 
America have fallen, doubtless, under the influence of prejudices 
almost as dangerous as ignorance, into errors quite as bad in 
spite of the wit with which certain pages sparkle we must 
say that this voyage is very far below the less celebrated 
excursions of the same author in his own country." 

Three years later, Mme. Blanc returns to the 



134 MARK TWAIN 

discussion of Mark Twain, in an essay in the Revue 
des Deux Mondes, entitled UAge Dore en Amerique 
an elaborate review and analysis of The Gilded 
Age. The savage charm and real simplicity of 
Mark Twain are not lacking in appeal, even to her 
sophisticated intelligence ; and she is inclined to 
infer that jovial irony and animal spirits are qualities 
sufficient to amuse a young nation of people like 
the Americans who do not, like the French, 
pique themselves upon being blase. According to 
her judgment, Mark Twain and Charles Dudley 
Warner are lacking in the requisite mental grasp 
for the " stupendous task of interpreting the great 
tableau of the American scene." Nor does she 
regard their effort at collaboration as a success from 
the standpoint of art. The charm of Colonel Sellers 
wholly escapes her ; she cannot understand the 
almost loving appreciation with which this cheaply 
gross forerunner of the later American industrial 
brigand was greeted by the American public. The 
book repels her by " that mixture of good sense 
with mad folly disorder " ; but she praises Mark 
Twain's accuracy as a reporter. The things which 
offend her sensibilities are the wilful exaggeration of 
the characters, and the jests which are so elaborately 
constructed that " the very theme itself disappears 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 135 

under the mass of embroidery which overlays it." 
" The audacities of a Bret Harte, the grosser temeri- 
ties of a Mark Twain, still astonish us," she concludes ; 
" but soon we shall become accustomed to an 
American language whose savoury freshness is not 
to be disdained, awaiting still more delicate and 
refined qualities that time will doubtless bring." 

In translating The Jumping Frog into faultless 
French (giving Mark Twain the opportunity for 
that delightful retranslation into English which 
furnished delight for thousands), in reviewing with 
elaboration and long citations The Innocents Abroad 
and The Gilded Age, Mme. Blanc introduced Mark 
Twain to the literary public of France ; and Emile 
Blemont, in his Esquisses Americaines de Mark 
Twain (1881), still further enhanced the fame of 
Mark Twain in France by translating a number of 
his slighter sketches. In 1886, Eugene Forgues 
published in the Revue des Deux Mondes an ex- 
haustive review (with long citations) of Life on the 
Mississippi, under the title Les Caravanes d'un 
humoriste ; and his prefatory remarks in regard to 
Mark Twain's fame in France at that time may be 
accepted as authoritative. He pointed out the 
praiseworthy efforts that had been made to popu- 
larize these " transatlantic gaieties," to import 



136 MARK TWAIN 

into France a new mode of comic entertainment. 
Yet he felt that the peculiar twist of national char- 
acter, the type of wit peculiar to a people and a 
country, the specialized conception of the vis comica 
revealed in Mark Twain's works, confined them 
to a restricted milieu. The result of all the efforts 
to popularize Mark Twain in France, he makes 
plain, was an almost complete check ; for to the 
French taste Mark Twain's pleasantry appeared 
macabre, his wit brutal, his temperament dry to 
excess. By some, indeed, his exaggerations were 
regarded as symptoms of mental alienation ; and 
the originality of his verve did not succeed in giving 
a passport to the incoherence of his conceptions. 
" It has been said," remarked M. Forgues, with 
keen perception, " that an academician slumbers 
in the depths of every Frenchman ; and it was this 
which prevented the success of Mark Twain in France. 
Humour, in France, has its laws and its restrictions. 
So the French public saw in Mark Twain a gross 
jester, incessantly beating upon a tom-tom to 
attract the attention of the crowd. They were 
tenacious in resisting all such blandishments. . . . 
As a humorist, Mark Twain was never appreciated 
in France. The appreciation he ultimately secured 
an appreciation by no means inconsiderable, 



THE WORLD FAMED GENIUS 137 

though in no sense comparable to that won in Anglo- 
Saxon and Germanic countries was due to his 
sagacity and penetration as an observer, and to his 
marvellous faculty for calling up scenes and situations 
by the clever use of the novel and the imprevti. 
There was, even to the Frenchman, a certain lively 
appeal in an intelligence absolutely free of convention, 
sophistication, or reverence for traditionary views 
qua traditionary." Though at first the salt of Mark 
Twain's humour seemed to the French to be lacking 
in the Attic flavour, this new mode of comic enter- 
tainment, the leisurely exposition of the genially 
naive American, in time won its way with the blase 
Parisians. Travellers who could find no copy of the 
Bible in the street bookstalls of Paris, were con- 
fronted everywhere with copies of Roughing It. 
When the authoritative edition of Mark Twain's 
works appeared in English, that authoritative French 
journal, the Mercure de France, paid him this dis- 
tinguished tribute : ' ; His public is as varied as 
possible, because of the versatility and suppleness 
of his talent which addresses itself successively to 
all classes of readers. He has been called the greatest 
humorist in the world, and that is probably the 
truth ; but he is also a charming and attractive 
story-teller, an alert romancer, a clever and pene- 



138 MARK TWAIN 

trating observer, a philosopher without pretensions, 
and therefore all the more profound, and finally, a 
brilliant essayist." 

Nevertheless, the observation of M. Forgues is 
just and authentic the Attic flavour of Vesprit 
Gaulois is alien to the loosely articulated structure 
of American humour. The noteworthy criticism 
which Mark Twain directed at Paul Bourget's Outre 
Mer, and the subsequent controversy incident thereto, 
forced into light the racial and temperamental 
dissimilarities between the Gallic and the American 
Ausschauung. Mr. Clemens once remarked to me 
that, of all continental peoples, the French were 
most alien to the spirit of his humour. In Le Figaro, 
at the time of Mark Twain's death, this fundamental 
difference in taste once more comes to light : " It 
is as difficult for a Frenchman to understand Mark 
Twain as for a North American to admire La Fontaine. 
At first sight, there is nothing in common between 
that highly specialized faculty which the Anglo- 
Saxons of the old and the new world designate under 
the name of humour, and that quality with us which 
we call wit (esprit). And yet, at bottom, these two 
manifestations of the human genius, so different 
in appearance, have a common origin and reach the 
same result : they are, both of them, the glorification 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 139 

of good sense presented in pleasing and unexpected 
form. Only, this form must necessarily vary with 
peoples who do not speak the same language 
and whose skulls are not fashioned in the same 
way." 

In Italy, as in France, the peculiar timbre of 
Mark Twain's humour found an audience not wholly 
sympathetic, not thoroughly au courant with his 
spirit. " Translation, however accurate and con- 
scientious," as the Italian critic, Raffaele Simboli, 
has pointed out, " fails to render the special flavour 
of his work. And then in Italy, where humorous 
writing generally either rests on a political basis 
or depends on risky phrases, Mark Twain's sketches 
are not appreciated because the spirit which breathes 
in them is not always understood. The story of 
The Jumping Frog, for instance, famous as it is in 
America and England, has made little impression in 
France or Italy." 

It was rather among the Germanic peoples and 
those most closely allied to them, the Scandinavians, 
that Mark Twain found most complete and ready 
response.. At first blush, it seems almost incredible 
that the writings of Mark Twain, with their occasional 
slang, their colloquialisms and their local peculiarities 
of dialect, should have borne translation so well into 



140 MARK TWAIN 

other languages, especially into German. It must, 
however, be borne in mind that, despite these peculiar 
features of his writings, they are couched in a 
style of most marked directness, simplicity and 
native English purity. The ease with which his 
works were translated into foreign, especially the 
Germanic and allied tongues, and the eager delight 
with which they were read and comprehended by all 
classes, high and low, constitute perhaps the most 
signal conceivable tribute, not only to the humanity 
of his spirit, but to the genuine art of his marvellously 
forthright and natural style. It need be no cause 
for surprise that as early as 1872 he had secured 
Tauchnitz, of Leipzig, for his Continental agent. 
German translations soon appeared of The Jumping 
Frog and Other Stories (1874), The Gilded Age (1874), 
The Innocents Abroad and The New Pilgrim's Pro- 
gress (1875), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). 
A few years later his sketches, many of them, were 
translated into virtually all printed languages, 
notably into Russian and modern Greek ; and his 
more extended works gradually came to be translated 
into German, French. Italian, and the languages 
of Denmark and the Scandinavian peninsula. 

The elements of the colossally grotesque, the 
wildly primitive, in Mark Twain's works, the under- 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 141 

lying note of melancholy not less than the law- 
less Bohemianism, found sympathetic appreciation 
among the Germanic races. George Meredith has 
likened the functionings of Germanic humour to 
the heavy-footed antics of a dancing bear. Mark 
Twain's stories of the Argonauts, the miners and 
desperadoes, with their primitive, orgiastic existence ; 
his narratives of the wild freedom of the life on the 
Mississippi, the lawless feuds and barbaric encounters 
all appealed to the passion for the fantastic and 
the grotesque innate in the Germanic consciousness. 
To the Europeans, this wild genius of the Pacific 
Slope seemed to function in a sort of unexplored 
fourth dimension of humour vast and novel of 
which they had never dreamed. It is noteworthy 
that Schleich, in his PsycJiopalhik des Humors, 
reserved for American humour, with Mark Twain 
as its leading exponent, a distinct and unique cate- 
gory which he denominated 'phantastischen, gross - 
dimensionalen. 

To the biographer belongs the task of describing, 
in detail, the lavish entertainment and open-hearted 
homage which were bestowed upon Mark Twain in 
German Europe. In writing of Mark Twain and his 
popularity in Germanic countries, Carl von Thaler 
unhesitatingly asserts that Mark Twain was feted, 



142 MARK TWAIN 

wined and dined in Vienna, the Austrian metropolis, 
in an unprecedented manner, and awarded unique 
honours hitherto paid to no German writer. In Berlin, 
the young Kaiser bestowed upon him the most 
distinguished marks of his esteem ; and praised his 
works, in especial Life on the Mississippi, with the 
intenscst enthusiasm. When Mark Twain received 
a command from the Kaiser to dine with him, his 
young daughter exclaimed that if it kept on like this, 
there soon wouldn't be anybody left for him to 
become acquainted with but God ! Mark said that 
it seemed uncomplimentary to regard him as un- 
acquainted in that quarter ; but of course his daughter 
was young, and the young always jump to conclu- 
sions without reflection. After hearing the Kaiser's 
eulogy on Life on the Mississippi, he was astounded 
and touched to receive a similar tribute, the same 
evening, from the portier of his lodging-house. He 
loved to dwell upon this, in later years declaring 
it the most extraordinary coincidence of his life that 
a crowned head and a portier, the very top of an 
empire and the very bottom of it, should have 
expressed the very same criticism, and delivered the 
very same verdict, upon one of his books, almost in 
the same hour and the same breath. 
The German edition of his works, in six volumes, 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 143 

published by Lutz of Stuttgart, in 1898, I believe, 
contained an introduction in which he was hailed 
as the greatest humorist in the world. Among 
German critics he was regarded as second only to 
Dickens in drastic comic situation and depth of 
feeling. Rohinson Crusoe was held to exhibit a 
limited power of imagination in comparison with 
the ingenuity and inventiveness of Tom Sawyer. At 
times the German critics confessed their inability 
to discover the dividing line between astounding 
actuality and fantastic exaggeration. The descrip- 
tions of the barbaric state of Western America 
possessed an indescribable fascination for the sedate 
Europeans. At times Mark Twain's bloody jests 
froze the laughter on their lips ; and his " revolver- 
humour " made their hair stand on end. Though 
realizing that the scenes and events described in 
Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry F-mn, Roughing It, and Life 
on the Mississippi could not have been duplicated 
in Europe, the German critics revelled in them none 
the less that " such adventures were possible onlv 
in America perhaps only in the fancy of an 
American ! " " Mark Twain's greatest strength," 
says Von Thaler, " lies in the little sketches, the 
literary snap-shots. The shorter his work, the more 
striking it is. He draws directlv from hie. No 



144 MARK TWAIN 

other writer has learned to know so many different 
varieties of men and of circumstances, so many 
strange examples of the Genus Homo, as he ; no 
other has taken so strange a course of development." 
The deeper elements of Mark Twain's humour did 
not escape the attention of the Germans, nor fail 
of appreciation at their hands. In his aphorisms, 
embodying at once genuine wit and experience of 
life, they discovered not merely the American 
author, but the universal human being; these 
aphorisms they found worthy of profound and 
lasting admiration. Sintenis found in Mark Twain 
a " living symptom of the youthful joy in existence " 
a genius capable at will, despite his " boyish 
extravagance," of the virile formulation of fertile 
and suggestive ideas. His latest critic in Germany 
wrote at the time of his death, with a genuine in- 
sight into the significance of his work : " Although 
Mark Twain's humour moves us to irresistible 
laughter, this is not the main point in his books ; 
like all true humorists, ist der Witz mil dem Welt- 
schmerz verbunden, he is a witness to higher thoughts 
and higher emotions, and his purpose is to expose 
bad morals and evil circumstances, in order to im- 
prove and ennoble mankind." The critic of the 
Berliner Zeitung asserted that Mark Twain is loved 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 145 

in Germany more than all other humorists, English 
or French, because his humour " turns fundamentally 
upon serious and earnest conceptions of life." It 
is a tremendously significant fact that the works of 
American literature most widely read in Germany 
are the works of striking conjunction ! Ralph 
Waldo Emerson and Mark Twain. 

The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County fired the 
laugh heard round the world. Like Byron, Mark 
Twain woke one morning to find himself famous. 
A classic fable, which had once evoked inextinguish- 
able laughter in Athens, was unconsciously re-told 
in the language of Angel's Camp, Calaveras County, 
where history repeated itself with a precision of 
detail startling in its miraculous coincidence. De- 
spite the international fame thus suddenly won by 
this little fable, Mark Twain had yet to overcome 
the ingrained opposition of insular prejudice before 
his position in England and the colonies was 
established upon a sure and enduring footing. In 
a review of The Innocents Abroad in The Saturday 
Review (1870), the comparison is made between the 
Americans who " do Europe in six weeks " and the 
most nearly analogous class of British travellers, 
with the following interesting conclusions : " The 
American is generally the noisier and more actively 

K 



146 MARK TWAIN 

disagreeable, but, on the other hand, he often partially 
redeems his absurdity by a certain naivete and half- 
conscious humour. He is often laughing in his 
sleeve at his own preposterous brags, and does not 
take himself quite so seriously as his British rival. 
He is vulgar, and even ostentatiously and atrociously 
vulgar ; but the vulgarity is mixed with a real 
shrewdness which rescues it from simple insipidity. 
We laugh at him, and we would rather not have too 
much of his company ; but we do not feel altogether 
safe in despising him." The lordly condescension 
and gross self-satisfaction here betrayed are but 
prehminaries to the ludicrous density of the sub- 
sequent reflections upon Mark Twain himself : " He 
parades his utter ignorance of Continental languages 
and manners, and expresses his very original judg- 
ments on various wonders of art and nature with a 
praiseworthy frankness. We are sometimes left 
in doubt whether he is speaking in all sincerity or 
whether he is having a sly laugh at himself and his 
readers " ! It is quite evident that the large mass 
of English readers, represented by The Saturday 
Review, had not caught Mark Twain's tone ; but 
even the reviewer is more than half won over by 
the infectiousness of this new American humour. 
" Perhaps we have persuaded our readers by this 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 147 

time that Mr. Twain (sic) is a very offensive specimen 
of the vulgarest kind of Yankee. And yet, to say 
the truth, we have a kind of liking for him. There 
is a frankness and originality about his remarks 
which is (sic) pleasanter than the mere repetition 
of stale raptures ; and his fun, if not very refined, 
is often tolerable in its way. In short, his pajjes 
may be turned over with amusement, as exhibiting 
more or less consciously a very lively portrait of the 
uncultivated American tourist, who may be more 
obtrusive and misjudging, but is not quite so stupidly 
unobservant as our native product. We should 
not choose either of them for our companions on 
a visit to a church or a picture-gallery, but we should 
expect most amusement from the Yankee as long 
as we could stand him." It was this review which 
gave Mark Twain the opening for his celebrated 
parody a parody which. I have always thought, 
went far to opening the eyes of the British public 
to the true spirit of his humour. Such irresistible 
fun could not fail of appreciation at the hands of 
a nation which regarded Dickens as their repre- 
sentative national author. 

Two years later, Mark Twain received in England 
an appreciative reception of wellnigh national 
character. Whilst the literary and academic circles 



148 MARK TWAIN 

of America withheld their unstinted recognition of 
an author so primitive and unlettered, Great Britain 
received him with open arms. He was a welcome 
guest at the houses of the exclusive ; the highest 
dignitaries of public life, the authoritative journals, 
the leaders of fashion, of thought, and of opinion 
openly rejoiced in the breezy unconventionality r 
the fascinating daring, and the genial personality 
of this new variety of American genius. His English 
publisher, John Camden Hotten, wrote in 1873 : 
" How he dined with the Sheriff of London and 
Middlesex ; how he spent glorious evenings with 
the wits and literati who gather around the festive 
boards of the Whitefriars and the Savage Clubs ; 
how he moved in the gay throng at the Guildhall 
conversazione ; how he feasted with the Lord 
Mayor of London ; and was the guest of that ancient 
and most honourable body the City of London 
Artillery all these matters we should like to dwell 
upon." His public lectures, though not so popular 
as those of Artemus Ward, won him recognition as 
a master in all the arts of the platform. Mr. H. R. 
Haweis, who heard him once at the old Hanover 
Square Rooms, thus describes the occasion : " The 
audience was not large nor very enthusiastic. I 
believe he would have been an increasing success 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 149 

had he stayed longer. We had not time to get 
accustomed to his peculiar way, and there was 
nothing to take us by storm, as in Artemus Ward. 
.... He came on and stood quite alone. A little 
table, with the traditional water-bottle and tumbler, 
was by his side. His appearance was not impressive, 
not very unlike the representation of him in the 
various pictures in his Tramp Abroad. He spoke 
more slowly than any other man I ever heard, and 
did not look at his audience quite enough. I do 
not think that he felt altogether at home with us, 
nor we with him. We never laughed loud or long ; 
no one went into those irrepressible convulsions 
which used to make Artemus pause and look so 
hurt and surprised. We sat throughout expectant 
and on the qui vive, very well interested, and gently 
simmering with amusement. With the exception 
of one exquisite description of the old Magdalen 
ivy-covered collegiate buildings at Oxford University, 
I do not think there was one thing worth setting 
down in print. I got no information out of the 
lecture, and hardly a joke that would wear, or a 
story that would bear repeating. There was a deal 
about the dismal, lone silver-land, the story of the 
Mexican plug that bucked, and a duel which never 
came off, and another duel in which no one was 



150 MARK TWAIN 

injured ; and we sat patiently enough through it, 
fancying that by and by the introduction would be 
over, and the lecture would begin, when Twain sud- 
denly made his bow and went off ! It was over. 
I looked at my watch ; I was never more taken 
aback. I had been sitting there exactly an hour 
and twenty minutes. It seemed ten minutes at the 
outside. If you have ever tried to address a public 
meeting, you will know what this means. It means 
that Mark Twain is a consummate public speaker. 
If ever he chose to say anything, he would say it 
marvellously well ; but in the art of saying nothing 
in an hour, he surpasses our most accomplished 
parliamentary speakers." 

The nation which had been reared upon the wit 
of Sidney Smith, the irony of Swift, the gros sel 
of Fielding, the extravagance of Dickens, was ripe 
for the colossal incongruities and daring contrasts 
of Mark Twain. They recognized in him not only 
" the most successful and original wag of his day,'* 
but also a rare genius who shared with Walt Whitman 
" the honour of being the most strictly American 
writer of what is called American literature." We 
read in a review of A Tramp Abroad, published in 
The Athenceum in 1880 : " Mark Twain is American 
pure and simple. To the eastern motherland he 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 151 

owes but the rudiments, the groundwork, already 
archaic and obsolete to him, of the speech he has to 
write; in his turn of art, his literary method and 
aims, his intellectual habit and temper, he is as 
distinctly national as the Fourth of July." Mark 
Twain was admired because he was " a literary 
artist of exceptional skill " ; and it was ungrudgingly 
acknowledged that " he has a keen sense of character 
and uncommon skill in presenting it dramatically ; 
and he is also an admirable story-teller, with the 
anecdotic instinct and habit in perfection, and with a 
power of episodic narrative that is scarcely equalled, 
if at all, by Mr. Charles Reade himself." Indeed, 
from the early days of The Innocents Abroad, the 
" first transatlantic democratic utterance which 
found its way into the hearing of the mass of English 
people " ; during the period of Tom Sawyer, " the 
completest boy in fiction," the immortal Huckleberry 
Finn, " the standard picaresque novel of America 
the least trammelled piece of literature in the 
language," and Life on the Mississippi, vastly appreci- 
ated in England as in Germany for its cultur-historisch 
value ; down to the day when Oxford University 
bestowed the coveted honour of its degree upon 
Mark Twain, and all England took him to their 
hearts with fervour and abandon during this long 



152 MARK TWAIN 

period of almost four decades, Mark Twain progress- 
ively strengthened his hold upon the imagination of 
the English people and, like Charles Dickens before 
him, may be said to have become the representative 
author of the Anglo-Saxon race. " The vast majority 
of readers here regard him," said Mr. Sydney Brooks 
in 1907, " to a degree in which they regard no other 
living writer, as their personal friend, and love him 
for his tenderness, his masculinity, his unfailing 
wholesomeness even more than for his humour." 
To all who love and admire Mark Twain, these words 
in which he was welcomed to England in 1907 should 
stand as a symbol of that racial bond, that entente 
cordiale of blood and heart, which he did so much 
to strengthen and secure. " A compliment paid to 
Mark Twain is something more than a compliment 
to a great man, a great writer, and a great citizen. 
It is a compliment to the American people, and one 
that will come home to them with peculiar gratifica- 
tion. . . . The feeling for Mark Twain among his 
own people is like that of the Scotch for Sir Walter 
eighty odd years ago, or like that of our fathers for 
Charles Dickens. There is admiration in it, gratitude, 
pride, and, above all, an immense and intimate 
tenderness of affection. To writers alone it is given 
to win a sentiment of this quality to writers and 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 153 

occasionally, by the oddness of the human mind, 
to generals. Perhaps one would best take the 
measure of the American devotion to Mark Twain 
by describing it as a compound of what Dickens 
enjoyed in England forty years ago, and of what 
Lord Roberts enjoys to-day, and by adding something 
thereto for the intensity of all transatlantic emotions. 
The ' popularity ' of statesmen, even of such a 
statesman as President Roosevelt, is a poor and 
flickering light by the side of this full flame of 
personal affection. It has gone out to Mark Twain 
not only for what he has written, for the clean, 
irresistible extravagance of his humour and his 
unfailing command of the primal feelings, for his 
tenderness, his jollity, and his power to read the 
heart of boy and man and woman ; not only for 
the tragedies and afflictions of his life so unconquer- 
ably borne ; not only for his brave and fiery dashes 
against tyranny, humbug, and corruption at home 
and abroad ; but also because his countrymen feel 
him to be, beyond all other men, the incarnation 
of the American spirit." 

Mark Twain achieved a position of supreme 
eminence as a representative national author which 
is without a parallel in the history of American 
literature. This position he achieved directly by 



164 MARK TWAIN 

his appeal to the great mass of the people, despite 
the dicta of the literati. At a time when England 
and Europe were throwing wide the doors to Mark 
Twain, the culture of his own land was regarding 
him with slighting condescension, or with mildly 
quizzical unconcern. Boston regarded him with 
fastidious and frigid disapproval, Longfellow and 
Lowell found little in him to admire or approve. 
There were notable exceptions, as Mr. Howells has 
recently pointed out Charles Eliot Norton, Professor 
Francis J. Child, and most notable of all, Mr. Howells 
himself ; but in general it is true that " in pro- 
portion as people thought themselves refined they 
questioned that quality which all recognize in 
him now, but which was then the inspired knowledge 
of the simple-hearted multitude." The professors 
of literature regarded Mark Twain as an author 
whose works were essentially ephemeral ; and stood 
in the breach for Culture against the barbaric in- 
vasion of primitive Western Barbarism. Professor 
W. P. Trent was, I believe, the first to cite Professor 
Richardson's American Literature (published in 1886) 
as a typical instance of the position of literary 
culture in regard to Mark Twain. " But there is a 
class of writers," we read in that work, " authors 
ranking below Irving or Lowell, and lacking the 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 155 

higher artistic or moral purpose of the greater 
humorists, who amuse a generation and then pass 
from sight. Every period demands a new manner 
of jest, after the current fashion. . . . The reigning 
favourites of the day are Frank R. Stockton, Joel 
Chandler Harris, the various newspaper jokers, 
and ' Mark Twain.' [Note the damning 'position /] 
But the creators of ' Pomona ' and ' Rudder Grange,' 
of ' Uncle Remus and his Folk-lore Stories,' and 
4 Innocents Abroad,' clever as they are, must make 
hay while the sun shines. Twenty years hence, 
unless they chance to enshrine their wit in some 
higher literary achievement, their unknown suc- 
cessors will be the privileged comedians of the 
republic. Humour alone never gives its masters 
a place in literature ; it must coexist with literary 
qualities, and must usually be joined with such 
pathos as one finds in Lamb, Hood, Irving, or 
Holmes." This passage stands in the 1892 edition 
of that work, though Tom Sawyer had appeared in 
1876, The Prince and the Pauper in 1882, Life on 
the Mississippi in 1883, Huckleberry Finn in 1884, 
and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court 
in 1889. Opinions analogous to those expressed 
in the passage just cited have found frequent ex- 
pression among leaders of critical opinion in America ; 



156 MARK TWAIN 

and only yesterday The Jumping Frog and The 
Innocents Abroad were seriously put forward, by a 
clever and popular American critic, as Mark Twain's 
most enduring claims upon posterity ! A bare 
half-dozen men in the ranks of American literary 
criticism have recognized and eloquently spoken 
forth in vindication of Mark Twain's title as a 
classic author, not simply of American literature, 
but of the literature of the world. 

It is, even now, perhaps not too early to attempt 
some sort of inquiry into the causes contributory 
to Mark Twain's recognition as the prime repre- 
sentative of contemporary American literature. One 
of the cheap catchwords of Mark Twain criticism 
is the statement that he is " American to the core," 
and that his popular appreciation in his own country 
was due to the fact that he most completely em- 
bodied the national genius. How many of those 
who confidently advance this vastly significant 
statement, one curiously wonders, have seriously 
endeavoured to make plain to others or even to 
themselves the reasons therefor ? Perhaps in 
seeking the causes for Mark Twain's renown in his 
own country one may discover the causes for his 
world-wide fame. 

A map of the United States, upon which were 



P^ ;> <***fty - V^piyfr 




THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 157 

marked the localities and regions made famous by 
the writings of Mark Twain, would show that, 
geographically, he has known and studied this vast 
country in all the grand divisions of its composition. 
Bred from old Southern stock, born in the South- 
west, he passed his youth upon the bosom of that 
great natural division between East and West, the 
Mississippi River, which cleaves in twain the very 
body of the nation. In the twenties he lost the 
feeling of local attachment in the vast democracy 
of the West, and looked life a strangely barbaric 
and primitive life straight in the face. This is 
the first great transformation in his life behold 
the Westerner ! After enriching his mind through 
contact with civilizations so diverse as Europe and 
the Sandwich Islands, he settled down in Connecticut, 
boldly foreswore the creeds and principles of his 
native section, and underwent a new transformation 
behold the Yankee ! Once again, travel in foreign 
lands, association with the most intellectual and 
cultured circles of the world, broadened his vision ; 
yet this cosmopolitan experience, far from diminish- 
ing his racial consciousness, tended still further to 
accentuate the national characteristics. In this 
new transformation, we behold the typical 
American! The later years, of cosmopolitan re- 



158 MARK TWAIN 

nown, of world-wide fame, throw into high relief 
the last transformation behold the universally 
human spirit ! Under this crude catalogue, the 
main lines of Mark Twain's development stand 
out in sharp definition. The catalogue, however, 
is only too crude it is impossible to say with 
precision just when such and such a transformation 
actually took place. It is only intended to be 
suggestive ; for we must bear in mind that Mark 
Twain never changed character. His spirit under- 
went an evolutionary process broadening, deepen- 
ing, enlarging its vision with the passage of the 
years. 

The part which the South played in the formation 
of the character and genius of Mark Twain has been 
little noted heretofore. It was in the South and 
Southwest that the creator of the humour of local 
eccentrics first appeared in full flower ; and " Ned 
Brace," " Major Jones," and " Sut Lovengood " 
have in them the germs of that later Western humour 
that was to come to full fruition in the works of 
Bret Harte and Mark Twain. The stage coach 
and the river steamboat furnished the means for 
disseminating far and wide the gross, the ghastly, 
the extravagant stories, the oddities of speech, the 
fantastic jests which emerged from the clash of 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 159 

diverse and oddly-assorted types. The jarring 
contrasts, the incongruities and surprises daily 
furnished by the picturesque river life unquestion- 
ably stimulated and fertilized the latent germs of 
humour in the young cub-pilot, Sam Clemens. 
Through Mark Twain's greatest works flows the 
stately Mississippi, magically imparting to them 
some indefinable share of its beauty, its variety, 
its majesty, its immensity ; and there is no exaggera- 
tion in the conclusion that it is the greatest natural 
influence which his works betray. Reared in a 
slave-holding community of narrow-visioned, arro- 
gantly provincial people of the lower middle class ; 
seeing his own father so degrade himself as to cuff 
his negro house-boy ; consorting with ragamuffins, 
the rag-tag and bob-tail of the town, in his passion 
for bohemianism and truantry young Clemens 
never learned to know the beauty and the dignity, 
the purity and the humanity, of that aristocratic 
patriarchal South which produced such beautiful 
figures as Lee and Lanier. Not even his most 
enthusiastic biographers have attempted to palliate, 
save with half-hearted facetiousness, his inglorious 
desertion of the cause which he had espoused. Mark 
Twain is the most speedily " reconstructed rebel " 
on record. Is it broad-minded or even accurate ! 



160 MARK TWAIN 

for Mr. Howells to say of Mark Twain : " No one 
has ever poured such scorn upon the second-hand, 
Walter-Scotticised, pseudo-chivalry of the Southern 
ideal ? " Mark Twain never, I firmly believe, 
held up to ridicule the Southern " ideal." But in 
a well-known and excellent passage in Life on the 
Mississippi, he properly pokes fun at the " wordy, 
windy, flowery ' eloquence,' romanticism, senti- 
mentality all imitated from Sir Walter Scott," of 
the Southern literary journal of the thirties and 
forties. In later years Mark Twain, in his Joan of 
Arc, voiced a spirit of noble chivalry which bespoke 
the " Southern ideal " of his Virginia forbears ; 
and that delicacy of instinct in matters of right and 
wrong which is so conspicuous a trait of Mark 
Twain's is a symptom of that " moral elegance " 
which Mr. Owen Wister has pronounced to be one 
of the defining characteristics of the Southern 
American. " No American of Northern birth or 
breeding," Mr. Howells pertinently observes, " could 
have imagined the spiritual struggle of Huck Finn 
in deciding to help the negro Jim to his freedom, 
even though he should be for ever despised as a 
negro thief in his native town, and perhaps eternally 
lost through the blackness of his sin. No Northerner 
could have come so close to the heart of a Kentuckv 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 161 

feud, and revealed it so perfectly, with the whimsi- 
cality playing through its carnage, or could have 
so brought us into the presence of the sardonic 
comi-tragedy of the squalid little river town where 
the store-keeping magnate shoots down his drunken 
tormentor in the arms of the drunkard's daughter, 
and then cows with bitter mockery the mob that 
comes to lynch him." 

The influence of the West upon the charact er 
and genius of Mik Twqin is mo mentous a ndjm- 
mistakable. Mark Twain found room for develop- 
ment and jgxpan ffion in the primitive freedo m_jof 
t he West. It was here, I thinjk, th at there were 
bred in him that breezy democracy of sentiment 
and that hatred of sham and pretence which fill 
his writings from beginning to end. In the W ^t, 
virgin yet recalcitrant, every man stood or fell 
byjorce^o fjiis own exertions : ev ery man, without 
fear or favour, struggl ed for fortune, for competence 
^=oTTor existence. It was a case of the survival 



of the fittest. In face of bleak Nature the burning 
alkali desert, the obdurate soil, the rock-ribbed 
mountains, all men were free and equal, in a 
camaraderie of personal effort. In this primitive 
democracy, every man demanded for himself what 
he saw others getting. The pretender, the hypocrite, 



162 MARK TWAIN 

the sham, the humbug soon went to the wall, exposed 
in the nakedness of his own impotency. IJumour 
jg-4 1 salut ary aid in the st ruggle o f the individu al 
with the contrasts of life ; indeed it may be said to 
be born of the perception of those contrasts. In 
a degree no whit inferior to the variegated river 
life, the life of the West furnished contrasts and 
incongruities innumerable vaster perhaps, and more 
significant. There was the incessant contrast of 
civilization with barbarism, of the East with the 
West ; and there was infinite play for the comic 
expose of the credulous " tenderfoot " at the hands 
of the pitiless cowboy. Roars of Gargantuan laughter 
shook the skies as each new initiate unwittingly 
succumbed to the demoniac wiles of his tormentors. 
The West was one vast theatre for the practice 
of the " practical joke." Behind ev erything, 
menacing, foreboding, tragic, lay the stupendous 
contrast between Man and Naturej and though 
the miner, the granger, the cowboy laughed defiantly 
at civilization and at Nature, therecrept in to th e 
consciousness of each the convi cti on that, in th e 
long run, civilization must trium ph, and fl mt, [n 
order to win success, Nature must be conquered and 
subdued. In such an environment, with its spirit of 
primitive democracy, its atmosphere of wild and 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 163 

ribald jest, its contempt for the impostor, its per- 
petually recurring incongruities, and behind all 
the solemn, perhaps tragic, presence of inexorable 
Nature in such an environment were sharpened 
and whetted in Mark Twain the sense of humour, 
the spirit of real democracy bred of competitive 
effort, and the hatred for pretence, sham, and 
imposture. 

It was not, I think, until Mark Twain went to 
live in Connecticut and, as he expressed it, became 
a scribbler of books, and an immovable fixture 
among the other rocks of New England, that he 
developed complete confidence in himself and his 
powers. That passion for successful self-expression, 
which Mr. Nicholas Murray Butler has defined 
as the main ambition of the American, became 
the dominant motive of Mark Twain's life. Of his 
experience as a steamboat pilot, Mark Twain has 
said that in that brief, sharp schooling he got person- 
ally and familiarly acquainted with about all the 
different types of human nature that are to be found 
in fiction, biography or history. In the West he had 
still further enriched his mind with an inexhaustible 
store of first-hand knowledge of human nature. 
In rotation he had been tramping jour printer, 
river pilot, private secretary, miner, reporter, 



164 MARK TWAIN 

lecturer. He now turns to literature in real earnest, 
and begins to display that vast store of knowledge 
derived from actual contact with the infinitely 
diversified realities of American life. Mark Twain 
takes on more and more of the characteristics of the 
Yankee those characteristics which constitute the 
basis of his success : inventiveness and ingenuity, 
the practical efficiency, the shrewdness and the hard 
common- sense. It is the last phase in the formation 
of the national type. 

It was, I venture to say, in some such way as 
this that Mark Twain came to assume in the eyes 
of his countrymen an embodiment of the national 
spirit. He was the self-made man in the self-made 
democracy. He was at once his own creation and 
the creation of a democracy. There were humorists 
in America before Mark Twain ; there are humorists 
in America still. But Mark Twain succeeded not 
merely in captivating the great mass of the people ; 
he achieved the far more difficult and unique dis- 
tinction of convincing his countrymen of his essential 
fellowship, his temperamental affinity, with them. 
This miracle he wrought by the frankest and most 
straightforward revelation of the actual experiences 
in his own life and the lives of those he had known 
with perfect intimacy. It is true that he wrote a 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 165 

few books dealing with other times, other scenes, 
than our own in the present and in America. But 
I daresay that his popularity with the mass of his 
countrymen would not have been in any degree 
lessened had he never written these few books. 
Indeed, it is hardly to be doubted that his books 
were successful in the ratio of their autobiographic 
nature. For the character he revealed in those 
books of his which are essentially autobiographic, 
is the character dear to the American heart ; and 
the experiences, vicissitudes, and hardships, shot 
through and irradiated with a high boisterousness 
of humour, found a joyous sympathy in the minds 
and hearts of men who had all " been there " them- 
selves. In Mark Twain the American people recog- 
nized at last the sturdy democrat, independent of 
foreign criticism ; confident in the validity and 
value of his own ideas and judgments ; believing 
loyally in his country's institutions, and upholding 
them fearlessly before the world ; fundamentally 
serious and self-reliant, yet with a practicality 
tempered by humane kindliness, warmth of heart, 
and a strain of persistent idealism ; rude, boisterous, 
even uncouth, yet withal softened by sympathy for 
the under-dog, a boundless love for the weak, the 
friendless, the oppressed ; lacking in profound 



166 MARK TWAIN 

intellectuality, yet supreme in the possession of the 
simple and homely virtues an upright and honour- 
able character, a good citizen, a man tenacious of 
the sanctity of the domestic virtues. America has 
produced finer and more exalted types giants in 
intellectuality, princes in refinement and delicacy 
of spirit, savants in culture, classics in authorship. 
An American type combining culture with pictur- 
esqueness, refinement with patriotism, suavity with 
self-reliance, desire it as we may, still awaits the 
imprimatur of international recognition. America 
has sufficient cause for gratification in the memory 
of that quaint and sturdy figure so conspicuously 
bearing the national stamp and superscription. 
Perhaps no American has equalled Mark Twain in 
the quality of subsuming and embodying in his own 
character so many elements of the national spirit 
and genius. In letters, in life, Mark Twain is the 
American par excellence. 

Underneath those qualities which combined to 
produce in Mark Twain a composite American type, 
lay something deeper still that indefinable je nc 
sais quoi which procured him international fame. 
Humour alone is utterly inadequate for achieving 
so momentous a result though humour ostensibly 
constituted the burden of the appeal. As a matter 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 167 

of fact, vehemently as the professors may deny it, 
Mark Twain was an artist of remarkable force and 
power. From the days when he came under the 
tutelage of Mr. Howells, and humbly learned to 
prune away his stylistic superfluities of the grosser 
sort, Mark Twain indubitably began to subject 
himself to the discipline of stern self-criticism. 
While it is true that he never learned to realize in 
full measure, to use Pater's phrase, " the responsi- 
bility of the artist to his materials,*' he assuredly 
disciplined himself to make the most, in his own 
way, of the rude and volcanic power which he pos- 
sessed. It is fortunate that Mark Twain never 
subjected himself to the refinements of academic- 
culture ; a Harvard might well have spoiled a great 
author. For Mark Twain had a memorable tale to 
tell of rude, primitive men and barbaric, remote 
scenes and circumstances ; of truant and resourceful 
boyhood exercising all its cunning in circumventing 
circumstance and mastering a calling. And he had 
that tale to tell in the unlettered, yet vastly ex- 
pressive, phraseology of the actors in those wild 
events. The secret of his style is directness of 
thought, a sort of shattering clarity of utterance, 
and a mastery of vital, vigorous, audacious individual 
expression. He had a remarkable feeling for words 



168 MARK TWAIN 

and their uses ; and his language is the unspoiled, 
expressive language of the people. At times he is 
primitive and coarse ; but it is a Falstaffian note, the 
mark of universality rather than of limitation. His 
art was, in Tolstoy's phrase," the art of a people 
universal art " ; and his style was rich in the locutions 
of the common people, rich and racy of the soil. A 
signal merit of his style is its admirable adaptation to 
the theme. The personages of his novels always 
speak " in character " with perfect reproduction, 
not only of their natural speech, but also of their 
natural thoughts. Though Mr. Henry James may 
have said that one must be a very rudimentary person 
to enjoy Mark Twain, there is unimpeachable virtue 
in a rudimentary style in treatment of rudimentary 
or, as I should prefer to phrase it, fundamental 
things. Mr. James, I feel sure, could never have put 
into the mouth of a " rudimentary " person like 
Huck, so vivid and graphic a description of a storm 
with its perfect reproduction of the impression 
caught by the " rudimentary " mind. " Writers 
of fiction," says Sir Walter Besant in speaking of this 
book, " will understand the difficulty of getting inside 
the brain of that boy, seeing things as he saw them, 
writing as he would have written, and acting as 
he would have acted ; and presenting to the world 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 169 

true, faithful, and living effigies of that boy. The 
feat has been accomplished ; there is no character in 
fiction more fully, more faithfully, presented than 
the character of Huckleberry Finn. ... It may be 
objected that the characters are extravagant. Not 
so. They are all exactly and literally true ; they 
are quite possible in a country so remote and so 
primitive. Every figure in the book is a type; 
Huckleberry Finn has exaggerated none. We see 
the life the dull and vacuous life of a small 
township upon the Mississippi River forty years ago. 
So far as I know, it is the only place where we can 
find that phase of life portrayed." 

Mark Twain impressed one always as writing 
with utter individuality untrammelled by the 
limitations of any particular sect of art. In his 
books of travel, he reveals not only the instinct of 
the trained journalist for the novel and the effective, 
but also the feeling of the artist for the beautiful, 
the impressive, and the sublime. His descriptions, 
of striking natural objects, such as the volcano of 
Mount Kilauea in the Sandwich Islands, of memor- 
able architecture, such as the cathedral at Milan, 
show that he possessed the " stereoscopic imagina- 
tion " in rare degree. The picture he evokes of 
Athens by moonlight, in the language of sim- 



170 MARK TWAIN 

plicity and restraint, ineffaceably fixes itself in the 
fancy. 

Mark Twain was regarded in France as a remark- 
able " impressionist " and praised by the critics 
for the realistic accuracy and minuteness of his 
delineation. Kipling frankly acknowledged the great 
debt that he owed him. Tennyson spoke in high 
praise of his finesse in the choice of words, his 
feeling for the just word to catch and, as it were, 
visualize the precise shade of meaning desired. In 
truth, Mark Twain was an impressionist, rather than 
an imaginative artist. That passage in A Yankee in 
King Arthur's Court in which he describes an early 
morning ride through the forest, pictorially evocative 
as it is, stands self-revealed a confusedly imagina- 
tive effort to create an image he has never experienced. 

If we set over beside this the remarkable de- 
scriptions of things seen, as minutely evocative as 
instantaneous photographs such, for example, as 
the picture of a summer storm, or preferably, the 
picture of dawn on the Mississippi, both from 
Huckleberry Finn pictures Mark Twain had seen 
and lived hundreds of times, we see at once the 
striking superiority of the realistic impressionist 
over the imaginative artist. 

I have always felt that the most lasting influence 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 171 

of his life the influence which has left the most 
pervasive impression upon his art and thought 
is portrayed in that classic and memorable passage 
in which he portrays the marvellous spell laid upon 
him by that mistress of his youth, the great river. 

To the young pilot, the face of the water in time 
became a wonderful book. For the uninitiated 
traveller it was a dead language, but to the young 
pilot it gave up its most cherished secrets. He came 
to feel that there had never been so wonderful a 
book written by man. To its haunting beauty, its 
enfolding mystery, he yielded himself unreservedly 
drinking it in like one bewitched. But a day came 
when he began to cease from noting its marvels. 
Another day came when he ceased altogether to note 
them. 

In time, he came to realize that, for him, the 
romance and the beauty were gone forever from 
the river. If the early rapture was gone, in its place 
was the deeper sense of knowledge and intimacy. 
He had learned the ultimate secrets of the river 
learned them with a knowledge, so searching and so 
profound, that he was enabled to give them the 
enduring investiture of art. 

Mark Twain possessed the gift of innate eloquence. 
He was a master of the art of moving, touching 



172 MARK TWAIN 

swaying an audience. At times, his insight into 
the mysterious springs of humour, of passion, and 
of pathos seemed almost like divination. All these 
qualities appeared in full flower in the written 
expression of his art. It would be doing a disservice 
to his memory to deny that his style did not possess 
literary distinction or elegance. At times his judg- 
ment was at fault ; his constitutional humour came 
near playing havoc with his artistic sense. Not 
seldom he was long-winded and laborious in his 
striving after comic effect. To offset these manifest 
lapses and defects there are the many fine qualities 
descriptive passages aglow with serene and cloud- 
less beauty, dramatic scenes depicted with virile 
and rugged eloquence, pathetic incidents touched 
with gentle and caressing tenderness. 

Style bears translation ill ; in fact, translation 
is not infrequently impossible. But Mr. Clemens 
once pointed out to me that humour has nothing to 
do with style. Mark Twain's humour for humour 
is his prevalent mood has international range since, 
constructed out of a deep comprehension of human 
nature and a profound sympathy for human relation- 
ship and human f ailing, it successfully surmounts the 
difficulties of translation into alien tongues. 

Mark Twain became a great international figure, 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 173 

rot because he was an American, paradoxical and 
unpatriotic as that may sound, but because he was 
America's greatest cosmopolitan. He was a true 
cosmopolitan in the Higginsonian sense, in that, 
unlike Mr. Henry James, he was " at home even in 
his own country." He was a true cosmopolitan 
in the Tolstoyan sense ; for his was " art trans- 
mitting the simplest feelings of common life, but 
such, always, as are accessible to all men in the 
whole world the art of common life the art of a 
people universal art." His spirit grasped the true 
ideal of our time and reflected it. 

Mr. Clemens attributed his international success 
not to qualities of style, not to allegiance to any 
distinctive school, not to any overtopping eminence 
of intellect. " Many so-called American humorists,'' 
he once remarked to me, " have been betrayed by 
their preoccupation with the local. Their work 
never crossed frontiers because they failed to 
impart to their humour that universal element 
which appeals to all races of men. Realism is 
nothing more than close observation. But observa- 
tion will never give you the inside of the thing. The 
life, the genius, the soul of a people are realized only 
through years of absorption." Mr. Clemens assever- 
ated that the only way to be a great American 



174 MARK TWAIN 

humorist was to be a great human humorist to 
discover in Americans those permanent and universal 
traits common to all nationalities. In his com- 
mentary upon Bourget's Outre Mer, he declared that 
there wasn't a single human characteristic that could 
safely be labelled " American " not a single human 
detail, inside or outside. Through years of automatic 
observation, Mark Twain learned to discover for 
America, to adapt his own phrase, those few 
human peculiarities that can be generalized and 
located here and there in the world and named by the 
name of the nation where they are found. 

Above all, I think, Mark Twain sympathized 
with and found something to admire in the citizens 
of every nation, seeking beneath the surface veneer 
the universal traits of that nation's humanity. He 
expressly disclaimed in my presence any " attitude " 
toward the world, for the very simple reason that his 
relation toward all peoples had been one of effort 
at comprehension of their ideals, and identification 
with them in feeling. He disavowed any colour 
prejudices, caste prejudices, or creed prejudices 
maintaining that he could stand any society. All 
that he cared to know was that a man was a human 
being that was bad enough for him ! It is a matter 
not of argument, but of fact, that Mark Twain has 



THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS 175 

made more damaging admissions concerning America 
than concerning any other nation. Lafcadio Hearn 
best succeeded in interpreting poetry to his Japanese 
students by freeing it from all artificial and local 
restraints, and using as examples the simplest lyrics 
which go straight to the heart and soul of man. 
His remarkable lecture on Naked Poetry is the 
most signal illustration of his profoundly suggestive 
mode of interpretation. In the same way, Mark 
Twain as humorist has sought the highest common 
factor of all nations. " My secret if there is any 
secret ," Mr. Clemens once said to me, " is to 
create humour independent of local conditions. 
In studying humanity as exhibited in the people 
and localities I best knew and understood, I have 
sought to winnow out the encumbrance of the local." 
And he significantly added musingly " Humour, 
like morality, has its eternal verities.' 1 '' 

To the literature of the world, I venture to say, 
Mark Twain has contributed : his masterpiece, that 
provincial Odyssey of the Mississippi, Huckleberry 
Finn, a picaresque romance worthy to rank with 
the very best examples of picaresque fiction ; 
Tom Sawyer, only little inferior to its pendent story, 
which might well be regarded as the supreme 
American morality-play of youth, Everyboy ; The 



176 MARK TWAIN 

Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg, an ironic fable of 
such originality and dexterous creation that it 
has no satisfactory parallel in literature ; the 
first half of Life on the Mississippi and all of 
Roughing It, for their reflections of the sociological 
phases of a civilization now vanished forever. It is 
gratifying to Americans to recognize in Mark Twain 
the incarnation of democratic America. It is grati- 
fying to citizens of all nationalities to recall and re- 
capture the pleasure and delight his works have 
given them for decades. It is more gratifying still 
to rest confident in the belief that, in Mark Twain, 
America has contributed to the world a genius sealed 
of the tribe of MoHere, a congener of Le Sage, of 
Fielding, of Defoe a man who will be remembered, 
as Mr. Howells has said, " with the great humorists 
of all time, with Cervantes, with Swift, or with any 
others worthy his company ; none of them was 
his equal in humanity." 



V. PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 



M 



"Diligently train your ideals upward and still upward 
towards a summit where you will find your chiefest pleasure 
in conduct which, while contenting you, will be sure to confer 
benefits upon your neighbour and the community." 

Mark Twain : What is Man ? 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 

" The humorous writer," says Thackeray, " professes 
to awaken and direct your love, your pity, your 
kindness, your scorn for untruth, pretension, and 
imposture, your tenderness for the weak, the poor, 
the oppressed, the unhappy. To the best of his 
means and ability he comments on all the ordinary 
actions and passions of life almost. He takes upon 
himself to be the week-day preacher, so to speak. 
Accordingly, as he finds, and speaks, and feels the 
truth best, we regard him, esteem him sometimes 
love him." This definition is apt enough to have 
been made with Mark Twain in mind. In an earlier 
chapter, is displayed the comic phase of Mark Twain's 
humour. Beneath that humour, underlying it and 
informing it, is a fund of human concern, a wealth 
of seriousness and pathos, and a universality of 
interests which argue real power and greatness. 
These qualities, now to be discussed, reveal Mark 
Twain as serious enough to be regarded as a real 
moralist and philosopher, humane enough to be 



180 MARK TWAIN 

regarded as, in spirit, a true sociologist and 
reformer. 

It must be recognised that the history of literature 
furnishes forth no great international figure, whose 
fame rests solely upon the basis of humour, however 
human, however sympathetic, however universal 
that humour may be. Behind that humour must 
lurk some deeper and more serious implication 
which gives breadth and solidity to the art-product. 
Genuine humour, as Landor has pointed out, re- 
quires a " sound and capacious mind, which is 
always a grave one." There is always a breadth of 
philosophy, a depth of sadness, or a profundity of 
pathos in the very greatest humorists. Both 
Rabelais and La Fontaine were reflective dreamers ; 
Cervantes fought for the progressive and the real 
in pricking the bubble of Spanish chivalry ; and 
Moliere declared that, for a man in his position, he 
could do no better than attack the vices of his time 
with ridiculous likenesses. Though exhibiting little 
of the melancholy of Lincoln, Mark Twain revelled 
in the same directness of thought and expression, 
showed the same zest for broad humour reeking with 
the strong but pungent flavour of the soil. Though 
expressing distaste for Franklin's somewhat cold and 
almost mercenary injunctions, Mark Twain never- 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 181 

theless has much of his Yankee thrift, shrewdness, 
and bed-rock common sense. Beneath and com- 
mingled with all his boyish and exuberant fun is a 
note of pathos subdued but unmistakable, which 
rings true beside the forced and extravagant pathos 
of Dickens. His Southern hereditament of chivalry, 
his compassion for the oppressed and his defence 
of the down-trodden, were never in abeyance from 
the beginning of his career to the very end. Like 
Joel Chandler Harris, that genial master of African 
folk-lore, Mark Twain found no theme of such 
absorbing interest as human nature. Like Fielding, 
he wrote immortal narratives in which the prime 
concern is not the " story," but the almost scientific 
revelation of the natural history of the characters. 
The corrosive and mordant irony of many a passage in 
Mark Twain, wherein he holds up to scorn the fraudu- 
lent and the artificial, the humbug, the hypocrite, 
the sensualist, are not unworthy of the colossal Swift. 
That " disposition for hard lutting with a moral 
purpose to sanction it," which George Meredith pro- 
nounces the national disposition of British humour, 
is Mark Twain's unmistakable hereditament. It is, 
perhaps, because he relates us to our origins, as Mr. 
Brander Matthews has suggested, that Mark Twain 
is the foremost of American humorists. 



182 MARK TWAIN 

In the preface to the Jumping Frog, published as 
far back as 1867, Mark Twain was dubbed, not 
only " the wild humorist of the Pacific slope," but also 
" the moralist of the Main." The first book which 
brought him great popularity, The Innocents Abroad , 
exhibited qualities of serious ethical import which, 
while escaping the attention of the readers of that 
day, emerge for the moderns from the welter of 
hilarious humour. How unforgettable is his righteous 
indignation over that " benefit " performance he 
witnessed in Italy ! 

The ingrained quality in Mark Twain, which 
perhaps more than any other won the enthusiastic 
admiration of his fellow Americans, was this: he 
always had the courage of his convictions. He 
writes of tlungs, classic and hallowed by centuries, 
with a freshness of viewpoint, a total indifference 
to crystallized opinion, that inspire tremendous 
respect for his courage, even when one's own con- 
victions are not engaged. The " beautiful love 
story of Abelard and Heloise " will never, I venture 
to say, recover its pristine glory now that Mark 
Twain has poured over Abelard the vials of his wrath. 

Those who know only the Mark Twain of the 
latter years, with his deep, underlying seriousness, 
his grim irony, and his passion for justice and 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 183 

truth, find difficulty in realizing that, in his earlier 
days, the joker and the buffoon were almost solely 
in evidence. In answer to a query of mine as to 
the reason for the serious spirit that crept into and 
gave carrying power to his humour, Mr. Clemens 
frankly replied : " I never wrote a serious word 
until after I married Mrs. Clemens. She is solely 
responsible to her should go the credit for any 
deeply serious or moral influence my subsequent 
work may exert. After my marriage, she edited 
everything I wrote. And what is more she not 
only edited my works, she edited me ! After I 
had written some side-splitting story, something 
beginning seriously and ending in preposterous 
anti- climax, she would say to me : ' You have 
a true lesson, a serious meaning to impart here. 
Don't give way to your invincible temptation 
to destroy the good effect of your story by 
some extravagantly comic absurdity. Be yourself ! 
Speak out your real thoughts as humorously as 
you please, but without farcical commentary. 
Don't destroy your purpose with an ill-timed joke.' 
I learned from her that the only right thing was to 
get in my serious meaning always, to treat my 
audience fairly, to let them really feel the underlying 
moral that gave body and essence to my jest." 



184 MARK TWAIN 

The quality with which Mark Twain invests his 
disquisitions upon morals, upon conscience, upon 
human foibles and failings, is the charm of the 
humorist always never the grimness of the moralist 
or the coldness of the philosopher. He observes 
all human traits, whether of moral sophistry or 
ethical casuistry, with the genial sympathy of a 
lover of his kind irradiated with the riant com- 
prehension of the humorist. And yet at times there 
creeps into his tone a note of sincere and manly 
pathos, unmistakable, irresistible. One has only 
to read the beautiful, tender tale of the blue jay in 
A Tramp Abroad to know the beauty and the depth 
of his feeling for nature and her creatures, his sense 
of kinship with his brothers of the animal kingdom. 

In our first joyous and headlong interest in the 
narrative of Huckleberry Finn, its rapid succession 
of continuously arresting incidents, its omnipresent 
yet never intrusive humour, the deeper significance 
of many a passage in that contemporary classic 
is likely to escape notice. Sir Walter Besant, who 
revelled in it as one of the most completely satisfying 
and delightful of books, speaks of it deliberately 
as a book without a moral. Perhaps he was deceived 
by the foreword : " Persons attempting to find a 
motive in this narrative will be prosecuted ; persons 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 185 

attempting to find a moral in it will be banished ; 
persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot." 
There never was a more easy-going, care-free, un- 
puritanical lot than Huck and Jim, the two farcical 
" hoboes," Tom Sawyer, and the rest. And yet in 
the light of Mark Twain's later writings one cannot 
but see in that picaresque romance, with its pleasingly 
loose moral atmosphere, an underlying seriousness 
and conviction. 1 Jim is a simple, harmless negro, 
childlike and primitive ; yet, so marvellous, so re- 
strained is the art of the narrator, that imperceptibly, 
unconsciously, one comes to feel not only a deep in- 
terest in, but a genuine respect for, this innocent 
fugitive from slavery. Mr. Booker Washington, 
a distinguished representative of his race, said he 
could not help feeling that, in the character of Jim, 
Mark Twain had, perhaps unconsciously, exhibited 
his sympathy for and interest in the masses of the 
negro people. 

Indeed, to the reflective mind and it is to be 
presumed that by that standard Mark Twain's 
works will ultimately be judged there is no more 
significant passage in Huckleberry Finn than that in 
which Huck struggles with his conscience over the 
knotty problem of his moral responsibility for com- 
passing Jim's emancipation. Nothing else is needed 



186 jMARK TWAIN 

to show at once [Mark Twain's preoccupation with 



the workings of human co nscience in the unso- 
phisticated mind and his conviction that, with the 
" lights that he had," Huck was justified in his 
courageous decision. 

Huck felt deeply repentant for allowing Jim to 
escape from the innocent, inoffending Miss Watson. 
He became consumed with horror and remorse to 
hear Jim making plans for stealing his wife and 
children, if their masters wouldn't sell them. His 
conscience kept stirring him up hotter than ever 
when he heard Jim talking to himself about the 
joys of freedom. After awhile, Huck decided to 
write a letter to Miss Watson, informing her of 
the whereabouts of her " runaway nigger." After 
writing that letter, he felt washed clean of sin, 
uplifted, exalted. But he could not forget all the 
goodness and tenderness of poor Jim, who had shown 
himself so profoundly grateful. Though he faced 
the torments of Puritanical damnation as a con- 
sequence, he resolved to let Jim go free. Humanity 
triumphed over conscience and with an " All 
right, then, I'll go to hell," he tore up the letter. J 

One of Mark Twain's favourite themes for the 
display of his humour was the subject of prevarica- 
tion. He seemed never to tire of ringing the changes 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 187 

upon the theme of the lie, its utility, its convenience, 
and its consequences. Doubtless he chose to dabble 
in falsehood because it is generally winked at as the 
most venial of all moral obliquities a fault which 
is the most thoroughly universal of all that flesh 
is heir to. The incident of George Washington 
and the cherry tree furnished the basis for countless 
of his anecdotes ; he wrung from it variations in- 
numerable, from the epigram to the anecdote. His 
distinction between George Washington and himself, 
redounding immeasurably to his own glory, and 
demonstrating his complete superiority to Washington 
as a moral character, is classic : " George Washington 
couldn't tell a lie. I can ; but I won't." Perhaps 
his most humorous anecdote, based upon the same 
story, is in connection with the exceedingly old 
" darky " he once met in the South, who claimed 
to have crossed the Delaware with Washington. 
" Were you with Washington," asked Mark Twain 
mischievously, " when he took that hack at the 
cherry tree ? " This was a poser for the old darkey ; 
his pride was appealed to, his very character was at 
stake. After an awkward hesitation, the old darkey 
spoke up, a gleam of simulated recollection (and real 
gratification for his convenient memory) overspread- 
ing his countenance : " Lord, boss, I was dar. In 



188 MARK TWAIN 

cose I was. I was with Marse George at dat very 
time. In fac I done druv dat hack myself " ! 

Mark Twain's most delightful trick as a popular 
humorist was to strike out some comic epigram, 
that passed currency with the masses whose fancy 
it tickled, and also had upon it the minted stamp 
of the classic aphorism. These epigrams were 
frequently pseudo-moral in their nature ; and their 
humour usually lay in the assumption that every- 
body is habitually addicted to prevarication 
which is just precisely true enough and reprehensible 
enough to validate the epigram. His method was 
humorous inversion ; and he told a story whose 
morals are so ludicrously twisted that the right 
moral, by contrast, spontaneously springs to light. 
" Never tell a he except for practice," is less 
successful than the more popularly known " When 
in doubt, tell the truth." Out of the latter maxim 
he succeeded in extracting a further essence of 
humour. He admitted inventing the maxim, but 
never expected it to be applied to himself. His 
advice, he said, was intended for other people ; when 
he was in doubt himself, he used more sagacity 1 
Mark Twain has made no more delightful epigram 
than that one in which he recognizes that a lie, 
morally reprehensible as it may be, is undoubtedly an 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 189 

ever present help in time of need : t; Never waste a 
lie. You never know when you may need it." 

Sometimes in a humorous, sometimes in a grimly 
serious way, Mark Twain was fond of drawing the 
distinction between theoretical and practical morals. 
Theofetieal-TOOxa ls. he would point out, are the so rt 
you get on your mother's knee, in good books, and 
from the pulpit. You get them into your head, not 
into your heart. Only by the commission of crime 
can anyone acquire real morals. Commit all the 
crimes in the decalogue, take them in rotation, per- 
severe in this stern determination and after awhile 
you will thereby attain to moral perfection ! It is 
not enough to commit just one crime or two though 
every little bit helps. Only by committing them 
all can you achieve real morality ! It is interesting 
to note this distinction between Mark Twain, the 
humorous moralist, and Bernard Shaw, the ethical 
thinker. Each teaches precisely the same thing the 
one not even half seriously, the other with all the 
sharp sincerity of conviction. Shaw unhesitatingly 
declares that trying to be wicked is precisely the 
same experiment as trying to be good, viz., the 
discovery of character. 

The range of Mark Twain's humour, from the 
ludicrous anecdote with comically mixed morals to 



190 MARK TWAIN 

the profound parable with grimly ironic conclusion, 
takes the measure of the ethical nature of the man. 
It can best be illustrated, I think, by a comparison 
of his anecdote of the theft of the green water-melon 
and the classic fable of The Man that Corrupted 
Hadleyburg. Mark stole a water-melon out of a 
farmer's wagon, while he wasn't looking. Of course 
stole was too harsh a term he withdrew, he retired 
that water-melon. After getting safely away to a 
secluded spot, he broke the water-melon open only 
to find that it was green, the greenest wajter-melon 
of the year. 

The moment he saw that the water-melon was 
green, he felt sorry. He began to reflect for re- 
flection is the beginning of reform. It is only by 
reflecting on some crime you have committed, that 
you are " vaccinated " against committing it again. 

So Mark began to reflect. And his reflections were 
of this nature : What ought a boy to do who has 
stolen a green water-melon ? What would George 
Washington, who never told a lie, have done ? He 
decided that the only real, right thing for any boy 
to do, who has stolen a water-melon of that class, 
is to make restitution. It is his*duty to restore it 
to its rightful owner. So rising up, spiritually 
strengthened and refreshed by his noble resolution, 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 191 

Mark restored the water-melon what there was left 
of it to the farmer and made the farmer give him a 
ripe one in its place ! Thus he clinched the " moral " 
of this story, so quaint and so ingenious ; and con- 
cluded that only in some such way as this could one 
be fortified against further commission of crime. 
Only thus could one become morally perfect ! 

Here, as in countless other places, Mark Twain 
throws over his ethical suggestion a suggestion, by 
contrast, of the very converse of his literal words 
the veil of paradox and exaggeration, of incongruity, 
fantasy, light irony. Yet beneath this outer covering 
of art there is a serious meaning that, like murder, 
will out. If demonstration were needed that Mark 
Twain is sealed of the tribe of moralists, that is 
amply supplied by that masterpiece, that triumph 
of invention, construction, and originality, The 
Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg. Here is a pure 
morality, daring in the extreme and incredibly 
original in a world perpetually reiterating a saying 
already thousands of years old, to the effect that 
there is nothing new under the sun. It is a deliberate 
emendation of that invocation in the Lord's Prayer : 
" Lead us (not) into temptation." The shrieking 
irony of this trenchant parable, its cynicism and 
heartlessness, would make of it an unendurable 



192 MARK TWAIN 

criticism of human life were it accepted literally 
as a representation of society. In essence it is a 
morality pure and simple, animated not only by its 
brilliantly original ethical suggestion, but also by its 
illuminating reflection of human nature and its 
graciously relieving humour. In that exultant letter 
which the Diabolus ex machina wrote to the betrayed 
villagers, he sneers at their old and lofty reputation 
for honesty that reputation of which they were 
so inordinately proud and vain. The weak point in 
their armour was disclosed so soon as he discovered 
how carefully and vigilantly they kept themselves and 
their children out of temptation. For he well knew 
that the weakest of all weak things is a virtue that has 
not been tested in the fire. The familiar distinction 
between innocence and virtue springs to mind. 
And it is worthy of consideration that Nietzsche, 
and Shaw after him, both point out that virtue 
consists, not in resisting evil, but in not desiring it ! 
The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg is a masterpiece, 
eminently worthy of the genius of a Swift. It pro- 
claims Mark Twain not only as a supreme artist, 
but also as eminently and distinctively a moralist. 

It is impossible to think of Mark Twain in his 
maturer development as other than a moralist. My 
personal acquaintance with Mr. Clemens convinced 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 193 

me had I needed to be convinced that in his 
later years he had striven to grapple nobly with 
many of the deeper issues of life, character and 
morality, public, religious and social, as well as 
personal and private. I never knew anyone who 
thought so " straight," or who expressed himself 
with such simple directness upon questions affecting 
religion and conduct. He was absolutely fearless in 
his condemnation of these subsidized " ministers " 
of the Gospel in cosmopolitan centres, who, through 
self-interest, cut their moral disquisitions to fit 
the predilections of their wealthy parishioners, many 
of whom were under national condemnation as 
" malefactors of great wealth." Animated by love 
for all creatures, the defenceless wild animal as well 
as the domestic pet, he was unsparing in his indict- 
ment of those big-game hunters who shamelessly 
described their feelings of savage exultation when 
some poor animal served as the target for their skill, 
and staggered off wounded unto death. His sympathy 
for the natives of the Congo was profound and 
intense ; and his philippic against King Leopold 
for the atrocities he sanctioned called the attention 
of the whole world to conditions that constituted 
a disgrace to modern civilization. His diatribe 
against the Czar of Russia for his inhumanity to the 



194 MARK TWAIN 

serfs was an equally convincing proof of his noble 
determination to throw the whole weight of his in- 
fluence in behalf of suffering and oppressed humanity. 
Some years before his death, he told me that he 
never intended to speak in public again save in 
behalf of movements, humanitarian and uplifting, 
which gave promise of effecting civic betterment 
and social improvement. 

I have always felt a peculiar and personal debt 
of gratitude to Mark Twain for three events for 
the publication of such works can be dignified 
with no less eminent characterization. When Mr. 
Edward Dowden tried to make out the best case 
for Shelley that he could, it was at the sacrifice of the 
reputation of the defenceless Harriet Westbrook. 
That ingrained chivalry which is the defining char- 
acteristic of the Southerner, the sympathy for the 
oppressed, the compassion for the weak and the 
defenceless, animated Mark Twain to one of the 
noblest actions of his career. For his defence of 
Harriet Westbrook is something more than a work, 
it is an act an act of high courage and nobility. 
With words icily cold in their logic, Mark Twain 
tabulated the six pitifully insignificant charges 
against Harriet, such as her love for dress and her 
waning interest in Latin lessons, and set over against 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 195 

them the six times repeated name of Cornelia Turner, 
that fascinating young married woman who read 
Petrarch with Shelley and sat up all hours of the 
night with him because he saw visions when he 
was alone ! Again, in his Joan of Arc, Mark Twain 
erected a monument of enduring beauty to that 
simple maid of Orleans, to whom the Roman Catholic 
Church has just now paid the merited yet tardy 
tribute of canonization. It is a sad commentary 
upon the popular attitude of frivolity towards the 
professional humorist that Mark Twain felt com- 
pelled to publish this book anonymously, in order 
that the truth and beauty of that magic story might 
receive its just meed of respectful and sympathetic 
attention. 

The third act for which I have always felt deeply 
grateful to Mark Twain is the apparently little known, 
yet beautiful and significant story entitled Was it 
Heaven or Hell? It contains, I believe, the moral 
that had most meaning for Mark Twain throughout 
his entire life the bankruptcy of rigidly formal 
Puritanism in the face of erring human nature, the 
tragic result of heedlessly holding to the letter, 
instead of wisely conforming to the spirit, of 
moral law. No one doubts that Mark Twain as 
who would not ? believed, aye, knew, that this 



196 MARK TWAIN 

sweet, human child went to a heaven of forgiveness 
and mercy, not to a hell of fire and brimstone, for 
her innocently trivial transgression. The essay 
on Harriet Shelley, the novel of Joan of Arc, and 
the story Was it Heaven or Hell ? are all, as decisively 
as the philippic against King Leopold, the diatribe 
against the Czar of Russia, essential vindications 
of the moral principle. Was it Heaven or Hell? 
in its simple pathos, The Man that Corrupted Hadley- 
burg in its morally salutary irony, present vital 
evidence of that same transvaluation of current 
moral values which marks the age of Nietzsche and 
Ibsen, of Tolstoy and Shaw. In that amusing, 
naive biography of her father, little Susy admits that 
he could make exceedingly bright jokes and could 
be extremely amusing ; but she maintains that he 
was more interested in earnest books and earnest 
conversation than in humorous ones. She pro- 
nounced him to be as much of a Pholosopher (sic) 
as anything. And she hazards the opinion that he 
might have done a great deal in this direction if only 
he had studied when he was a boy ! 

Years ago, Mark Twain wrote a book which he 
called An Extract from Captain Stormfield's Visit to 
Heaven. For long he desisted from publishing it 
because of his fear that its outspoken frankness 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 197 

would appear irreverent and shock the sensibilities 
of the public. While his villa of " Stormfield " was 
in course of erection several years ago, he discovered 
that half of it was going to cost what he had expected 
to pay for the whole house. His heart was set on 
having a loggia or sun-parlour ; and when it seemed 
that he would have to sacrifice this apple of his eye 
through lack of funds, he threw discretion to the winds, 
hauled out Captain Stormfield and made the old tar 
pay the piper. His fears as to its reception were wholly 
unwarranted ; for it was generously enjoyed for its 
shrewd and vastly suggestive ideas on religion and 
heaven as popularly taught nowadays from the pulpits. 
This book is full of a keen and bluff common sense, 
cannily expressed in the words of an old sea-captain 
whom Mark Twain had known intimately. It is 
only another link in the chain of evidence which goes 
to prove that Mark Twain had thought long and 
deeply upon the problematical nature of a future life. 
It is, in essence, a redudio ad absurdum of those 
professors of religion who still preach a heaven of 
golden streets and pearly gates, of idleness and ever- 
lasting psalm-singing, of restful and innocuous bliss. 
Mark Twain wanted to point out the absurdity of 
taking the allegories and the figurative language of 
the Bible literally. Of course everybody called for 



198 MARK TWAIN 

a harp and a halo as soon as they reached heaven. 
They were given the harps and halos indeed nothing 
harmless and reasonable was refused them. But 
they found these things the merest accessories. 
Mark Twain's heaven was just the busiest place 
imaginable. There weren't any idle people there 
after the first day. The old sea captain pointed out 
that singing hymns and waving palm branches through 
all eternity was all very pretty when you heard 
about it from the pulpit, but that it was a mighty 
poor way to put in valuable time. He took no stock 
in a heaven of warbling ignoramuses. He found that 
Eternal Rest, reduced to hard pan, was not as com- 
forting as it sounds in the pulpit. Heaven is the 
merited reward of service ; and the opportunities 
for service were infinite. As he said, you've got to 
earn a thing square and honest before you can enjoy 
it. To Mark, this was " about the sensiblest heaven " 
he had ever heard of. He mourned a little over the 
discovery that what a man mostly missed in heaven 
was company. But he rejoiced in the information 
vouchsafed by his friend the Captain a valuable 
piece of information that leaves him, and all who are 
so fortunate as to hear it, the better for the know- 
ledge that happiness isn't a thing in itself, but only 
a contrast with something that isn't pleasant ! This 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 199 

view of heaven, seen through the temperament of a 
humorist and a philosopher, is provocative and 
thought- compelling more than it is amusing or 
ludicrous. I think it inspired Bernard Shaw's 
Aerial Foot-ball wliich won Collier's thousand dollar 
prize a prize which Mr Shaw hurled back with 
indignation and scorn ! 

Mark Twain was a great humorist more genial 
than grim, more good-humoured than ironic, more 
given to imaginative exaggeration than to intel- 
lectual sophistication, more inclined to pathos than 
to melancholy. He was a great story-teller and 
fabulist ; and he has enriched the literature of the 
world with a gallery of portraits so human in their 
likenesses as to rank them with the great figures of 
classic comedy and picaresque romance. He was 
a remarkable observer and faithful reporter, never 
allowing himself, in Ibsen's phrase, to be " frightened 
by the venerableness of the institution " ; and his 
sublimated journalism reveals a mastery of the 
naively comic thoroughly human and democratic. 
He is the most eminent product of our American 
democracy, and, in profoundly shocking Great 
Britain by preferring Connecticut to Camelot, he 
exhibited that robustness of outlook, that buoyancy 
of spirit, and that faith in the contemporary which 



200 MARK TWAIN 

stamps America in perennial and inexhaustible 
youth. Throughout his long lif e, he has been a factor 
of high ethical influence in our civilization, and the 
philosopher and the humanitarian look out through 
the twinkling eyes of the humorist. 

And yet, after all, Mark Twain's supreme title to 
distinction as a great writer inheres in his natural, 
if not wholly conscious, mastery in that highest 
sphere of thought, embracing religion, philosophy, 
morality and even humour, which we call sociology. 
When I first advanced this view, it was taken up 
on all sides. Here, we were told, was Mark Twain 
" from a new angle " ; the essay was reviewed at 
length on the continent of Europe ; and the author 
of the essay was invited "to explain Mark Twain 
to the German public " ! There are still many 
people, however, who resent any demonstration 
that Mark Twain was anything more than a 
mirthful and humorous entertainer. Mr. Bernard 
Shaw once remarked to me, in support of the view 
here outlined, that he regarded Poe and Mark Twain 
as America's greatest achievements in literature, 
and that he thought of Mark Twain primarily, not 
as humorist, but as sociologist. " Of course," he 
added, " Mark Twain is in much the same position 
as myself : he has to put matters in such a way as to 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 201 

make people who would otherwise hang him, believe 
he is joking." 

Mark Twain once said that whenever he had 
diverged from custom and principle to utter a truth, 
the rule had been that the hearer hadn't strength 
of mind enough to believe it. " Custom is a petri- 
faction," he asserted; "nothing but dynamite can 
dislodge it for a century." Mr. W. D. Howells has 
advanced the somewhat fanciful theory that " the 
ludicrous incongruity of a slave-holding democracy 
nurtured upon the Declaration of Independence, and 
the comical spectacle of white labour owning black 
labour, had something to do in quickening (in Mark 
Twain) the sense of contrast which is the mountain of 
humour or is said to be so." However that may be, 
Mark Twain was irresistibly driven to the conclusion, 
Southern born though he was, that slavery was 
unjust, inhuman, and indefensible. The advanced 
thinkers in the South had reached this conclusion 
long before the beginning of the Civil War, and 
many Southern men had actually devised freedom 
to their slaves in their wills. The slaves were treated 
humanely, their material wants were cared for by 
their owners with a care that can only be called 
loving, and their spiritual welfare was the frequent 
concern in particular of the mistress of the house. 



202 MARK TWAIN 

In his schoolboy days, Mark Twain had no aversion 
to slavery. He wasn't even aware that there was 
anything wrong about it. He never heard it con- 
demned by acquaintances or in the local papers. 
And as for the preachers, they taught that God 
approved slavery, and cited Biblical passages in 
support of that view. If the slaves themselves were 
averse to it, at least they kept discreetly silent on 
the subject. He seldom saw a slave misused on 
the farm, never. But when he was brought face 
to face with Sandy, the little slave forcibly separated 
from his family, it made a deep impression upon his 
consciousness. _It was this deplorable evil of the 
system, this unnatural and inhuman forcible separa- 
tion of the members of the same family, the one 
from the other, that convinced him of the injustice 
of slavery ;.; though this vision, as has been pointed 
out by Mr. Ho wells, did not come to him " till after 
his liberation from neighbourhood in the vaster far 
West." Yet it found its way into his books into 
Huckleberry Finn, with its recital of Jim's pathetic 
longing to buy back his wife and children ; and 
in PudcTnhead Wilson with its moving picture of 
the poor slave's agony when she suddenly realizes 
in the way the water is flowing around the snag 
that she is being " sold down the river." In 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 203 

Uncle Tom's Cabin, as Professor Phelps has pointed 
out, " the red-hot indignation of the author largely 
nullified her evident desire to tell the truth. . . . 
Mrs. Stowe's astonishing work is not really the 
history of slavery ; it is the history of abolition 
sentiment. . . . Mark Twain shows us the beautiful 
side of slavery for it had a wonderfully beautiful, 
patriarchal side and he also shows us the horror of 
it." Mark Twain has declared that the only way 
to write a great novel is to learn the scenes and 
people with which the story is concerned, through 
years of " unconscious absorption " of the facts 
of the life to be portrayed. When his stories were 
written, slavery was a thing of the past he was 
competent to judge of the situation impartially, 
through direct personal contact throughout his 
boyhood with the realities of slavery. His object 
was not the object of the reformer, warped with 
prejudice and fired by animosity. He saw clearly ; 
for his aim was not polemic, but artistic. Hence 
it is, I believe, that Mark Twain stands out as, 
in essence and in fundamentals, a remarkable 
sociologist. Certain passages in his books on 
the subject of slavery, as the historian Lecky 
has declared, are the truest things that have ever 
been expressed on the subject which vexed a con- 



204 MARK TWAIN 

tinent and plunged a nation in bloody, fratricidal 
strife. 

Huckleberry Finn and Life on the Mississippi 
always call up to my mind the most vivid pictures 
pictures that are eternally unforgettable. The 
memorable scene in which Colonel Sherburne quells 
the mob and his scathing remarks upon lynching ; 
the reality and the pathos of the feuds of those 
Kentucky families, the Shepherdsons and the 
Grangerfords, shooting each other down at sight 
in vindication of honour and pride of race ; the 
lordly life of the pilot on the Mississippi, his violent 
and unchallenged sway over his subordinates, his 
mastery of the river ; the variegated colours of that 
lawless, picturesque, semi-barbarous life of the 
river all these sweep by us in a series of panoramic 
pictures as Huck's raft swings lazily down the 
tawny river, and Horace Bixby guides his boat 
through the dangers of the channel. Mark Twain 
is primarily a great artist, only unconsciously a 
true sociologist. But his power as a sociologist 
is no less real that it is unconscious, indeed infinitely 
more real and human and verisimilar that it is not 
polemical. There is a " sort of contemporaneous 
posterity " which has registered its verdict that 
Mark Twain was the greatest humorist of the present 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 203 

era. But there is yet to come that greater posterity 
of the future which will, I dare say, class Mark Twain 
as America's greatest, most human sociologist in 
letters. He is the historian, the historian in art. 
of a varied and unique phase of civilization on the 
American continent that has passed forever. And 
it is inconceivable that any future investigator 
into the sociological phases of that civilization can 
fail to find priceless and unparalleled documents in 
the wild yet genial, rudimentary yet sane, boisterou> 
yet universally human writings of Mark Twain. 

Mark Twain's genius of social comprehension and 
sociologic interpretation went even deeper than 
this. His mastery lay not alone in penetrative re- 
flection of a bit of sectional life and a vanished phase 
of our civilization, not alone in astute criticism of an 
" institution " blotted from the American escutcheon 
and a collective racial passion that periodically breaks 
forth from time to time in mad " carnivals of crime." 
(The itefinjng quality of the true so ciologist, thai 
quality which gives his profession its power and 
validity as an effective instrumentality in the ad- 
vancement of civilization, i s the faculty of penetratin g 
national and racial disguises, and going dire cily-io 
the heart of the human pmhh>m Mark Twain 
possessed this faculty in supreme degree. As a 



206 MARK TWAIN 

literary critic he was banal and futile ; but as a social 
and racial critic he was remarkable and profound. 
His essay Concerning the Jews is a masterpiece of 
impartial interpretation ; his comprehension of 
French and German racial traits, as revealed in his 
works, is keen and pervasively pertinent ; and his 
magnificent analysis of the situation in South Africa, 
in the concluding chapters of Following the Equator, 
rings clear with the accents of truth and mounts 
almost to the dignity of public prophecy. Deeper 
far, more comprehensive, and voiced with splendid 
courage, are Mark Twain's interpretations of American 
democracy and his mirroring of the national ideals. 
His " defence " of General Funston is a scorching and 
devastating blast, red with the fires of patriotism. 
Whatever be one's convictions, one cannot but 
respect the profound sincerity of Mark Twain's 
berserker-like rage over the attitude of Europe in 
China, the barbarities of Russian autocracy, and the 
horrors of America's methods in the Philippines, 
copied after Weyler's reconcentrado policy in Cuba. 
His study of Christian Science, despite its hyperbole, 
its gross exaggerations and unfulfilled prophecies, is 
the expression of glorified common-sense, a socio- 
logical study of religious fanaticism comprehensive in 
psychological analysis of national and racial traits. 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 207 

In his own works, Mark Twain brought to realiza- 
tion the dim and inchoate fancies of Whitman ; in his 
own person he realized that " divine average " of 
common life which is the dream of American democ- 
racy. The Prince and the Pauper is a beautiful 
child's tale, vivid in narrative and rich in human 
interest. It is something deeper far than this ; for 
the very crucial motive of the story, the successful 
substitution of the commoner for the king, transforms 
it into a symbolic legend of democracy and__ihe 
equali ty of man . Mark Twain vehemently approved 
the French revolution, and frankly expressed his 
regret over Napoleon's failure to invade England and 
thus destroy the last vestiges of the semi-feudal 
paraphernalia of the British monarchy. Despite its 
note of Yankee blatancy, jJYankee -aUhfi Qouit^ of 
King Arthur is a remarkable brief for demo cracy and 
the brotherhood of man. So eminent a publicist as 
Mr. William T. Stead pronounced it, at the time of its 
first appearance, one of the most significant books of 
our time ; and classed it (with Henry George's Progress 
and Poverty and Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward) 
as the third great book from America to give tre- 
mendous impetus to the social democratic movement 
of the age. Mark Twain abandoned all hope of a 
future life ; found more of sorrow than of joy in 



208 MARK TWAIN 

life's balances ; and even, in his latter years, lost faith 
in humanity itself. But amid the wreck of faiths and 
creeds, he achieved the strange paradox of American 
optimism : he never lost faith in democracy, and 
fought valiantly to the end in behalf of equality and 
the welfare of the average man. 

Several years ago, when we were crossing the 
Atlantic on the same ship, Mr. Clemens told me that 
while he was living in Hartford in the early eighties, 
I think, he wrote a paper to be read at the fort- 
nightly club to which he belonged. This club was 
composed chiefly of men whose deepest interests 
were concerned with the theological and the religi- 
ously orthodox. One of his friends, to whom he 
read this paper in advance, solemnly warned him 
not to read it before the club. For he felt confident 
that a philosophical essay, expressing candid doubt 
as to the existence of free will, and declaring without 
hesitation that every man was under the immitigable 
compulsion of his temperament, his training, and 
his environment, would appear unspeakably shock- 
ing, heretical and blasphemous to the orthodox 
members of that club. " I did not read that paper," 
Mr. Clemens said to me, " but I put it away, resolved 
to let it stand the corrosive test of time. Every now 
and then, when it occurred to me, I used to take 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 209 

that paper out and read it, to compare its views 
with my own later views. From time to time I 
added something to it. But I never found, during 
that quarter of a century, that my views had altered 
in the slightest degree. I had a few copies published 
not long ago ; but there is not the slightest evidence 
in the book to indicate its authorship." A few 
days later he gave me a copy, and when I read that 
book, I found these words, among others, in the 
prefatory note : 

" Every thought in them (these papers) has been 
thought (and accepted as unassailable truth) by 
millions upon millions of men and concealed, 
kept private. Why did they not speak out ? Be- 
cause they dreaded (and could not bear) the dis- 
approval of the people around them. Why have 
I not published ? The same reason has restrained 
me, I think. I can find no other." 

What is Man ? propounds at length, through the 
medium of a dialogue between a Young Man and an 
Old Man, the doctrine that " Beliefs are acquire- 
ments ; temperaments are born. Beliefs are subject 
to change ; nothing whatever can change tempera- 
ment." He enunciates the theory, which seems 
to me both brilliant and original, that there can be 
no such person as a permanent seeker after truth. 



210 MARK TWAIN 

" When he found the truth he sought no farther ; 
but from that day forth, with his soldering iron in 
one hand and his bludgeon in the other, he tinkered its 
leaks and reasoned with objectors." " All training," 
he avers, " is one form or another of outside influences, 
and association is the largest part of it. A man is 
never anything but what his outside influences 
have made him. They train him downward or they 
train him upward but they train him ; they are 
at work upon him all the time." Once asked by 
Rudyard Kipling whether he was ever going to 
write another story about Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain 
replied that he had a notion of writing the sequel 
to Tom Sawyer in two parts, in one bringing him 
to high honour, and in the other bringing him to 
the gallows. When Kipling protested vigorously 
against any theory of the sort, because Tom Sawyer 
was real, Mark Twain replied with the fatalistic 
doctrine of What is Man ? : " Oh, he is real. He's 
all the boy that I have known or recollect ; but 
that would be a good way of ending the book 
because, when you come to think of it, neither religion, 
training, nor education avails anything against the 
force of circumstances that drive a man. Suppose 
we took the next four and twenty years of Tom 
Sawyer's life, and gave a little joggle to the 



PHILOSOPHER, MORALIST, SOCIOLOGIST 211 

circumstances that controlled him. He would, 
logically and according to the joggle, turn out a 
rip or an angel." It was what he called Kismet. 
It is one of the tragedies of his life, so sad in many 
ways, that in the days when the blows of fate fell 
heaviest upon his head, he had lost all faith in the 
Christian ideals, all belief in immortality or a person al 
GojL And yet he avowed that, no matter what 
form of religion or theology, atheism or agnosticism, 
the individual or the nation embraced, the human 
race remained " indestructibly content, happy, 
thankful, proud." He never had a tinge of pessi- 
mism in his make-up, his beliefs never tended to 
warp his nature, he accepted his fatalism gladly 
because he saw in it supreme trut h. His ultimate 
philosophy of life, which he sums up in What is Man ?, 
is healthy and right-minded. It is best embodied 
in the lofty injunction : " Diligently train your 
ideals upward and still upward towards a summit 
where you will find your chiefest pleasure in conduct 
which, while contenting you, will be sure to confer 
benefits upon your neighbour and the community." 
Lassalle once said : " History forgives mistakes 
and failures, but not want of conviction." In 
Mark Twain, posterity will never be called upon to 
forgive any want of conviction. 



\PPENDIX 



APPENDIX 

A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF BOOKS, ESSAYS, AND ARTICLES 
DEALING WITH MARK TWAIN (SAMUEL LANGHORNE 
CLEMENS) 

I860 (September) 1910 (September) 

1869. Reviews of The Innocents Abroad. "Nation" (N.Y.), 

September 2 ; " Atlantic Monthly," December. 

1870. Reviews of The Ivnocents Abroad. By Bret Harte 

in " Overland Monthly," January ; " Saturday 
Review," October 8. 
Introduction to The Innocents Abroad (English edition, 
J. C. Hotten : London). By E. P. Hingston. 

1872. Les Humoristes Americaines. Mark Twain. By Th. 

Bentzon (Mme. Blanc). " Revue des Deux Mondes," 
July 15. 
Mark Twain. " Once a Week," December 14. 

1873. Introduction to the Choice Humorous Works of Mark 

Twain (J. C. Hotten : London). By " J. C. H." 

1874. Review of The Gilded Age. " Old and New," March. 
Mark Twain. By G. T. Ferris. " Appleton's Magazine," 

July. 

1875. L Age Dori en AmJrique. Constituting an elaborate 

review, with appreciation and lengthy extracts, of 
The Gilded Age (London, 1874). By Th. Bentzon 
(Mme. Blanc). " Revue des Deux Mondes," March 15. 

215 



216 MARK TWAIN 

1879. Mark Twain at Hartford. In Celebrities at Home, by 

Edmund Yates. Reprinted from " The World " 
(London). Third Series. 

1880. Review of A Tramp Abroad. " Athenaeum," April 24. 

1881. Review of The Prince and the Pauper. "Critic," 

December 31. 

1882. Mark Twain. " Critic," June 17. 

Review of The Stolen White Elephant. " Nation " 
(N.Y.), August 10. 

Mark Twain. By W. D. Howells. "Century," Sep- 
tember. 

Mark Twain. In American Humorists, by H. R. Haweis. 
(Funk and Wagnalls : New York.) 

1883. Reviews of Life on the Mississippi. " Athenaeum," 

June 2 ; by R. Brown in " The Academy," July 
28 ; " Congregationalism" August ; " Nation " (N.Y.), 
August 30 ; " Atlantic Monthly," September. 

1884. Mark Twain and the First of April. " Critic," April 5. 
Mark Twain in Bronze. " Critic," October 18. 

1885. Mark Twain at " Nook Farm " (Hartford) and Elmira. 

By C. H. Clark. " Critic," January 17. 
To Mark Ticain on his Fiftieth Birthday. Poem by 

Oliver Wendell Holmes. " Critic," November 28. 
The Boyhood of Mark Twain. " Critic," December 12. 

1886. Les Caravanes (Tun humoriste. Constituting a critical 

sketch of, and long citations from, Life on the 
Mississippi (Jas. R. Osgood and Co. : Boston, 1885). 
By Eugene Forgues. " Revue des Deux Mondes," 
February 15. 

1887. Mark Twain. In Famous American Authors, by Sarah 

K. Bolton. (Thos. Y. Crowell and Co. : New York.) 



APPENDIX 217 

1888. Mark Twain. By C. H. Clark. In Authors at Home, 
edited by J. L. and J. B. Gilder. (Cassell Publishing 
Co. : New York.) Same article in " Critic," January 
17, 1885. 

1890. Review of A Connecticut Yankee at the Court of King 

Arthur. In Editor's Study. " Harper's Magazine." 

January. 
Sketch of A Yankee in King Arthur's Court. " Review 

of Reviews " (London), February. 
Review of A Yankee in King Arthur's Court. "Critic,"' 

February 22. 
The Way Mark Twain impressed England. " Critic," 

November 29. 
Introduction to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. By 

0. Krieger. (G. Frcytag : Leipzig.) 

1891. Andrew Lang's Tribute to Mark Twain. From "' Illustrated 

News of the World." " Critic," March 7. 
The Art of Mark Tn-ain. From " Illustrated News of 
the World." By Andrew Lang. " Critic," July 25. 

1892. Mark Twain. His Life and Work. By W. M. Clemens. 

(Clemens Publishing Co., San Francisco.) 
Chance Recollections of Mark Twain. By M. M. Fairbanks. 

" Chautauquan," January. 
Mark Twain. Interview by Luke Sharp. " Idler," 

February. 
Mark Twain. By J. Stuart. " Literary Opinion," 

July. 

1893. Reporting with Mark Twain. By Dan de Quille. 

'* Californian Illustrated Magazine," July. 
S. L. Clemens and his Recent Works. By Frank R. 

Stockton. " Forum." August. 
Stockton on Mark Twain. " Critic," August 12. 
Mark Twain at the Lirfos. ,l Critic," November 18. 



218 MARK TWAIN 

1894. Mark Twain. In Literarische Ansichten in Vortragen. 

By Franz Sintenis. (E. J. Karow's Universitats- 

buchhandlung : Dorpat = Fellin.) 
Mark Twain. In American Writers of To-day. By 

H. C. Vcdder. (Silver and Burdett : New York.) 
Test Readings of Mark Twain's Hands. " Borderland," 

January. 
Mark Twain as a Plagiarist. " Critic," March 31. 
Private History of the " Jumping Frog " Story. By 

Mark Twain. " North American Review," April. 
Review of Tom Sawyer Abroad. " Saturday Review." 

May 19. 

1895. Of Mark Twain's Best Story. In Books and Play-Books. 

By Brander Matthews. (Osgood, M c Ilvaine and Co. : 

London.) 
Mark Twain's Character by Palmistry and Otherwise. 

" Borderland," January. 
Samuel L. Clemens on Paul Bourget's " Outre Mer." 

Reply to Mark Twain. By Max O'Rell (Paul Blouet). 

"North American Review," March. 
Review of Pudd'nhead Wilson. " Critic," May 11. 
Mark Twain as a Critic. By D. F. Hannigan. " Free 

Review," October. 

1896. Mark Twain as an Historical Novelist. By W. P. Trent. 

" Bookman " (N.Y.), May. 
Review of Mark Tuain's humoristische Schriften. " Beilage 

z. Allgemeinen Zeitung/' May 6. 
Mark Twain. By Joseph H. Twichell. M Harper's 

Magazine," May. 
Portraits of Mark Twain. " M c Clure's Magazine," June. 
Mark Twain Up-to-date. " Idler," July. 

1897. Mark Twain. In Warner's Library of the World's Best 

Literature, vol. vii. (R. 8, Peale and J. A. Hill : 
New York.) 



APPENDIX 219 

Mark Twain and his Work. By Brander Matthews. 

" Book-Buyer," January. 
Mark Twain as an Interpreter of American Character. 

By Charles M. Thompson. "Atlantic Monthly." 

April. 
Mark Twain, Benefactor. " Academy," June 26. 
Mark Twain. A Character Sketch. By W. T. Stead. 

" Review of Reviews " (London), August. Same article : 

"Review of Reviews" (Australasian edition), September. 
Mark Twain's Place in Literature. By David Masters. 

" Chautauquan," September. 
Mark Twain. In My Contemporaries in Fiction. By 

D. C. Murray. " Canadian Magazine," October. 
Mark Twain in Germany. " Critic," November 20. 
Die Humoristen. In Geschichte der nordatnerikanischen 

Litteratur. By E. Engel. (J. Baedeker : Leipzig.) 
Review of Mark Twain's humoristische Schriften. " Illus- 

trirte Zeitung," Nr. 2843. 

1898. Mark Twain. By Robert Barr. " M'Clure's Magazine." 

January ; " Idler," February (same article). 
" The Book of the Month." More Tramps Abroad. 

" Review of Reviews " (London), January. 
Review of More Tramps Abroad. " Lettres Anglaises " 

in " Mercure de France," February. 
Mark Twain as Prospective Classic. By Theodore de 

Laguna. " Overland Monthly," April. 
The Real Mark Twain. By Carlyle Smith. " Pall Mall 

Magazine," September. 
Mark Twain in California. By Noah Brooks. " Century," 

November. 
Psychophysik des Humors. By K. L. Schleich. 

" Zukunft," vol. xxv., ss. 374-393. 
Mark Twain. By " S. T." " Monatsblatter fur deutsche 

Litteratur," third year, ss. 33-35. 



220 MARK TWAIN 

1899. Mark Twain. A Biographical Criticism. By Brander 

Matthews. In vol. i., collected edition of Mark 

Twain's works (Harper and Bros. : New York. Chatto 

and Windus : London). Reprinted in Inquiries and 

Opinions, by B. Matthews. (Chas. Scribner's Sons: 

New York, 1907.) 
Mark Twain's Pets. By Edwin Wildman. " St Nicholas," 

January. 
Mark Ticairfs First Book. By Luther F. Livingstone. 

" Bookman " (N.Y.), February. 
Mark Twain in Deutschland. By Carl von Thaler. " Die 

Gegenwart," June 17. 
American Humour : Mark Twain. By Anna E. Keeling. 

" London Quarterly Review," July. 
Mark Twain. By Samuel E. Moffett. " MClure's 

Magazine," October. Also published in The $30,000 

Bequest and Other Stories, by Mark Twain. 
Reply to Mark Twain on the Jews. By M. S. Levy. 

" Overland Monthly," October. 
My Dibut as a Literary Person. By Mark Twain. 

" Century," November. 
Review of Mark Twain's Complete Works (Chatto and 

Windus). " Lettres Anglaises " in " Mercure de 

France," December. 
Familiar Haunts of Mark Twain. By E. D. Fiedler. 

" Harper's Weekly," December 16. 
An Interview with Mark Twain. In From Sea to Sea, 

by Rudyard Kipling. (Doubleday and M'Clure Co. : 

New York.) 
Introduction to Mark Twain's humoristische Schrijten. 

(Lutz : Stuttgart.) 

1900. Mark Twain. In Eccentricities of Genius. By J. B. 

Pond. (Chatto and Windus : London.) 



APPENDIX 221 

Introduction to Contcs Choisis de Mark Twain. By 

Gabriel de Lautrec. (Mercure de France : Paris.) 
One of Mark Twain s Heroes (Captain Josiah Mitchell). 

By B. F. Hawley. " Century," May. 
My Favorite Xovelist and His Best Book. By Sir W 

Besant. " Munsey's Magazine," June. 
Mark Twain on the Lecture Platform. By W. M. Clemens 

" Ainslee's Magazine," August. 
Mark Twain. By J. E. Hodder- Williams. '' Bookman " 

(London), September. 
Review of Contes Choisis dc Mark Twain. (Translated by 

Gabriel de Lautrec.) ' : Mercure de France," September. 
God Speed Mark Twain. By P. Bigelow. ' : Inde 

pendent," October 2D. 
Reviews of The Man that Corrupted Hadleybury. 

" Harper's Weekly," August 25 ; '* Athenaeum," 

September 29 ; ''Critic" (William Archer), November ; 

" Blackwood's Magazine," November ; same article 

" Living Age," December 15. 
Mark Twain, American Citizen. " Nation " (N.Y.), 

November 29. 
Twain's Trip around the World. " Current Literature." 

December. 
Surprise Party to Twain. By W. D. Howells. " Harper's 

Weekly," December 15. 
Twain and his Characters. " Harper's Weekly,' 

December 15. 
Mark Twain. Being a review of his Ausgcwahllc humorist. 

Schriflen (Lutz : Stuttgart). By " D."* " Alte uud 

Neue Welt," vol. xxxiv., s. 700. 

1901. Mark Twain as an Educator. By C. J. France. " Educa- 
tion," January. 
Mark Twain. A Biographical Sketch. '" Review ol 
Reviews " (N.Y.), Januarv. 



MARK TWAIN 

Mark Twain a Humorist only. "Bookman" (N.Y.), 

January. 
Mark Twain : an Inquiry. By W. D. Howells. " North 

American Review," February. Reproduced in same 

magazine, June, 1910. 
Mark Twain more than Humorist. By R. E. Phillips. 

" Book-Buyer," April. 
Mark Twain's Lecturing Experience. " Book-Buyer," 

April. 
Twain as an Inventor. By F. E. Leupp. " Harper's 

Weekly," September 7. 
A Retrospect of American Humor. By W. P. Trent. 

" Century," November. 
Mark Twain. A Biographical Sketch. By W. Ramsay. 

" Great Thoughts," December. 
Reviews of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In gekiirzter 

Fassg. (W. G. Kriiger, Leipzig : Freytag, 1900) : 

(a) by H. Heim. " Mitteilungen a. d. gesammten 
Gebiete d. engl. Sprache u. Litteratur." Beibl. 
z. " Anglia," ss. 28-31. 

(b) by J. Ellinger. Same journal, s. 148. 

(c) by Ph. Wagner. " Englische Studien," s. 164. 
Mark Twain. Biographical Introduction to A Tramp 

Abroad (selected chapters for use in the schools), 
edited by Dr. Max Mann. (Leipzig : Freytag, 1901.) 

1902. Mark Twain and the "chat noir" By R. Phillips. 

" Book-Buyer," June. 
A Day with Mark Twain. By W. B. Northrop. " Cassell's 

Magazine," July. 
Twain unveils a Tablet to Eugene Field. " Harper's 

Weekly," July 15. 
The Boyhood Home of Mark Twain. By Henry M. 

Wharton. " Century," September. 
Obituaries of Twain. " Harper's Weekly," November 29. 



APPENDIX 223 

W. D. Howells* Appreciation of Mark Tioain. " Con- 
necticut Magazine," December. 

In Honor of Mark Twain ; Poems. " Harper's Weekly," 
December 13. 

Mark Twain and Christian Science. " Harper's Weekly," 
December 27. 

Samuel L. Clemens and the First Nevada Legislature. 
By M. L. Luther. " Land of Sunshine, " vol. xv., 
p. 144. 

Review of M. Twain: A Tramp Abroad, h. v. M. Mann 
(Leipzig: Freytag, 1901). By J. Ellinger. " Mit- 
teilungen a. d. gesamten Gebiete d. engl. Sprache 
u. Litteratur," Beibl. z. " Anglia," s. 149. 

1903. Will Christian Science Hide the World? ''Review of 

Reviews " (N.Y.), January. 
Fiftieth Birthday of Mark Twain. " Critic," January. 
Mark Twain and Christian Science. " Harper's Weekly," 

January 24. 
Caricature of Mark Twain. '* Bookman " (N.Y.), July. 
Portrait of Mark Tieain, from the miniature of JJijo Catani. 

" Studio," September 15. 
Mark Twain u. d. amerikanische Humor. By B. Diederich. 

" Der Tiirmer " (Stuttgart), July, ss. 434-445. 
Altertumlichc Sprache in d. Roman : The Prince and 

the Pauper. By J. Ellinger. " Beitrage zur neuer. 

Philologie J. Schipper z. 19. Juli 1902," ss. 88-107. 
Review of A Tramp Abroad, h. v. M. Mann (Leipzig : 

Freytag, 1900). By Wilhelm Swoboda. " Die 

neueren Sprachen," July, ss. 223-225. 

1904. Mark Twain, By T. M. Parrott. " Booklover's 

Magazine," February. 
Interview with Mark Twain. By J . M Arthur. " Harpers 
Weekly," May 14. 



224 MARK TWAIN 

Mark Twain from an Italian Point of View. By Raffaele 

Simboli. " Critic," June. 
Extracts from Ada?n , s Diary. " Spectator," June 11. 

A Glance at Twain's Spoken and Written Art. By 
R. W. Gilder. " Outlook," December 3. 

" Mark Twain." Samuel L. Clemens. By W. L. Alden. 
" English Illustrated Magazine," November. 

Mark Twain als Mensch u. Humorist. By A. Wurru. 
" Alte und neue Welt" (Einsiedeln), s. 718. 

1905. Mark Twain's Autobiography, 1872. " Connecticut 

Magazine," April. 
Mark Twain at Seventy. " Outlook," December 2 ; 

" Nation," December 14. 
Seventieth Birthday Dinner to Mark Twain. " Harper's 

Weekly," December 23. 
Mark Twain u. d. amerik. Humor. " Beilage zur 

AUgemeinen Zeitung " (Miinchen). Nr. 77. 
Mark Twain (zu seinem siebzigsten Geburtstage), with 

portrait. By Ludwig Salomon. " Illustrirte Zeitung." 

(Leipzig), November 30. 
Mark Twain. By B. Diederich. " Tagl. Rundschau " 

(Leipzig), Nr. 280. 
Mark Twain (zum siebzigsten Geburtstag). By L. Kellner. 

" Neue Freie Presse " (Literaturblatt), December 3, 

ss. 31-32. 
Review of A Tramp Abroad, h. v. M. Mann (Leipzig : 

Freytag, 1901). By Huendgren. " Gymnasium " 

(Paderborn), s. 49. 

1906. The Story of Mark Twain's Debts. By Frederick A. 

King. " Bookman " (N.Y.), January. Virtually 
same article in same magazine, June, 1910. 



APPENDIX 225 

When Mark Twain Lectured. By W. H. Merrili. 

" Harper's Weekly," February 10. 
Mark Twain. Neues v. AH. By B. Diederieh. " Der 

Tiirmer," May, ss. 173-178, 
Mark Twain's Life of Samuel L. Clemens. " Current 

Literature," October. 
Chapters from My Autobiography. By Mark Twain. 

" North American Review." Begun September 7, 

1906, and ended December, 1907. 

1907. Samuel L. Clemens. By H. M. Bland. " Overland 

Monthly," January. 
Samuel L. Clemens. By S. Gould. " Broadway 

Magazine," February. 
Samuel L. Clemens. By Andrew Lang. " Albany 

Review," April. 
Mark Ticain, Mrs Eddy and Christian Science. By 

E. A. Kimball. " Cosmopolitan," May. 
Mark Twain. By W. L. Phelps. " North American 

Review," July 5. Same article in Essays on Modern 

Novelists, by W. L. Phelps. (The Macmillan Co., 

1910.) 
Samuel L. Clemens. " Spectator," May 25 ; same article, 

" Living Age," July 6. 
8, L. Clemens in England. By Sydney Brooks. " Harper's 

Weekly," July 20. 
England's Ovation to Mark Twain. By Sydney Brooks. 

' Harper's Weekly," July 27. 
Mark Twain, Doctor of Letters. By Samuel E. Moffett. 

" Review of Reviews " (N.Y.), August. 
Mark Twain, the Humorist. By Hamilton W. Mabie 

" Outlook," November 23. 
Review of The $10,000 Bequest and other Stories. By 

E. Teichmann. " Neue Philologische Rundschau,*" 

s. 593. 



MARK TWAIN 

The Savage Club. By Aaron Watson. T. Fisher Unwin, 
London. Chapters: Artemus Ward and Mark Twain, 
and Mark Twain's Own Account; pp. 119-135. 

1908. Mark Twain. In The Neiv American Type, and other 

Essays. By Henry D. Sedgwick. (Houghton, 

Mifflin and Co. : Boston.) 
Life of Thomas Bailey Aldrich. By Ferris Greenslet. 

(Houghton, Mifflin and Co. : Boston.) 
A Senator of the Sixties. By W. M. Stewart. (Neale 

Publishing Co. : Richmond.) Compare also " Saturday 

Evening Post," February 15. 
American Literature. By Charles Whibley. " Black- 
wood's Magazine," March. 
Mark Twain's New Home at Bedding, Conn. By A. B. 

Paine. " Harper's Weekly," July 4. 
American Humor. By Brander Matthews. " Saturday 

Evening Post," November 21. 
Life of Bret Harte. By T. Edgar Pemberton. (C. Arthur 

Pearson : London.) 

1909. Sixty Years in the Wilderness. By Sir H. Lucy. Chapter 

(pp. 220-229) on Mark Twain. (E. P. Dutton and Co. : 

New York.) 
Mark Twain's House at Bedding, Co-nn. " American 

Architect and Building News " (N.Y.), February 10. 
'"Stormfield," Mark Twain's New Country Home. By 

A. R. Dugmore. " Country Life in America," April. 
Mark Twain. His Unique Bosition in the Bepublic of 

Letters. By Archibald Henderson. " Harper's 

Magazine," May. 
Mark Twain at Stormfield. By A. B. Paine. " Harper's 

Magazine," May. 
The Beal Mark Twain. The Man and his Work. By 

Archibald Henderson. " Charlotte Observer/'' 

Sunday, May 16. 



APPENDIX 227 

Is Mark Twain Dead ? Comment. " Bookman *' (N.Y.). 

June. 
A Shakespeare Puzzle. Being an analysis of Is Shakespeare 

Dead ? Editor's Study. " Harper's Magazine," July. 
Mark Twain. By Jacques Lux. " LTndepcndence 

Beige," July 16. 
Mark Twain from a New Angle. "Current Literature." 

August. 
Is Mark Twain Dead ? By E. H. Angert. " North 

American Review," September. 
Mark Twain wie er ist. Eine Skizze nach dem Lehen. 

By Archibald Henderson. " Deutsche Revue," 

November. 
Mark Twain Library' Benefit. " Putnam's Magazine," 

December. 
Mark Twain on Christian Science. By M. Fischer. " Die 

neueren Sprachen," ss. 206-228. 

1910. Mark Twain Number of "The Book News Monthly 
(Philadelphia), April, containing the following papers : 
Mark Twain. Personal Impressions. By Henry M 

Alden. 
Mark Twain the Humorist. By Clarence H. Gaines. 
S. L. Clemens. " New York Observer," April 28. 
Mark Twain and His Works. " Independent," April 28. 
Mark Twain. By G. K. Chesterton. " T. P.'s Weekly," 

April 29. 
Mark Twain as an Author. " Outlook " (N.Y.), April SO. 
Mark Twain. A Biographical Summary. By A. B. 

Paine. " Harper's Weekly," April 30. 
One of Mark Twain s " Innocents Abroad." *' New 
York Times," May 1. 



228 MARK TWAIN 

Notes on Mark Twain. By W. L. Phelps. " Independent," 

May 5. 
Twainiana. Compiled by A. M. Stoddart. " Inde- 
pendent," May 5. 
Mark Twain, Intime. " Le Figaro " (Paris), May 7. 
The Last Day at Stormfield. Poem by Bliss Carman. 

" Collier's Weekly," May 7. 
Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Poem by W. D. Nesbit. 

" Harper's Weekly," May 7. 
To Mark Twain. Poem by 8. F. Murray. " Harper's 

Weekly," May 7. 
Mark Twain's Religious Book. Being a review of What 

is Man ? " Literary Digest," May 7. 
Mark Twain. By S. P. Sherman. " Nation," May 12. 
Painting the Portrait of Mark Twain. By S. J. Woolf, 

" Collier's Weekly," May 14. 
Mark Twain. Poem by J. W. Thompson. " Harper's 

Weekly," May 14. 
Mark Twain Number of the " Bookman " (N.Y.), June, 
containing the following papers : 
Mark Twain An Appreciation. By Henry M. Alden. 
Mark Twain in San Francisco. By Bailey Millard. 
Best Sellers of Yesterday. " The Innocents Abroad." 

By Arthur B. Maurice. 
Mark Twain in Clubland. By William H. Rideing. 
Mark Twain a Century Hence. By H. T. Peck. 
The Story of Mark Twain's Debts. By Frederick A. 
King. 
Mark Twain Number of the " Bookman " (London), June, 
containing the following papers : 
The Humor of Mark Twain. By Barry Pain. 
Mark Twain, the Man and the Jester. By Walter 
Jerrold. 



APPENDIX 229 

Personal Recollections and Opinions of Mark Twain. 
By Jerome K. Jerome, E. V. Lucas, Walter 
Emanuel, J. J. Bell, Leonard Henslowe, Arnold 
Bennett, Owen Seaman, W. Pett Ridge, and 
F. Anstey. 
Mark Twain's Pessimistic Philosophy. " Current 

Literature," June. 
Mark Twain as a Serious Force in Literature. " Current 

Literature," June. 
Mark Twain and the Old Time Subscription Book. By 

G. Ade. " Review of Reviews " (N.Y.), June. 
Mark Twain, Artist. By W. L. Phelps. " Review 

of Reviews " (N.Y.), June. 
Mark Twain as a Neighbor. By D. Beard. " Review 

of Reviews " (N.Y.), June. 
England and Mark Twain. By il Britannicus." " North 

American Review," June. 
Tributes to Mark Ticain. By Andrew Carnegie, A. B. 

Paine, Booker T. Washington, Booth Tarkingto, 

Samuel Gompers, Wilbur D. Nesbit, George Ade, 

Hamlin Garland, John Kendrick Bangs, Brander 

Matthews. "North American Review," June. 
A Great Career. " Chautauqua Magazine," June. 
Serious Humorists. "Nation" (N.Y.), June 30. 
Mark Twain as an Orator. By " Charles Vale." 

" Forum," July. 
A Great Individual. " American Monthly," July. 
Mark Twain : an intimate Memory. By Henry Watterson. 

" American Magazine," July. 
Mark Twain: a Poem. By Caroline Stern. "Harpers 

Weekly," July 2. 
My Memories of Mark Twain. By W. D. Howells. 

" Harper's Magazine," July, August, and September. 



230 MARK TWAIN 

My Mark Twain. By W. D. Howells. Harper & Bros. : 
New York and London. 

Note. This bibliography of more than two hundred and 
thirty titles, although it has been compiled with care and after 
considerable research, is of necessity incomplete. There remain 
numerous articles, essays, and " interviews," scattered about, in 
newspapers and magazines, all over the world. These articles 
are not indexed and consequently are difficult to trace ; yet, in 
many cases, they contain valuable biographical data for the life 
of Mark Twain. The author of the present work will sincerely 
appreciate any aid given him in the effort to perfect the present 
bibliography, and will gratefully acknowledge all articles or 
titles sent to him through his publishers, American or English. 
All who admire and love the works of Mark Twain may 
show their appreciation by adding their mite to the present 
bibliography. 

* The International Fame of Mark Twain. By Archibald 
Henderson. " North American Review," December. 



PS 
1331 

1912 



Henderson, Archibald 
Mark Twain 



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